Belk endowment will provide $10 million in assistance

Jan. 16, 2014 @ 08:59 PM

RALEIGH — A North Carolina endowment is giving $10 million to improve access to higher education for low-income students in rural North Carolina high schools.

The John M. Belk Endowment will give the money over three years to the College Advising Corps, which places recent university graduates as college advisers in underserved high schools, officials with the endowment said Thursday.

The funding will allow the Corps to work with three campuses — Davidson College, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — to place advisers in 60 rural high schools.

In a news release, the endowment said experts estimate that 63 percent of jobs will require some sort of higher education by 2018. But in North Carolina, about 27 percent of adults in rural counties hold two- or four-year degrees, compared to 42 percent in urban areas, the endowment said. That means rural workers are less competitive for new jobs and investment, the endowment said.

"We are finding that too many young people who are college ready do not apply to college because they lack the financial resources and understanding of how to access higher education, which can positively change the trajectory of their lives," said Kristy Teskey, the endowment's executive director.

The endowment's funding "will help break through those barriers to match rural students with opportunities that fit them best, and in turn create a more educated North Carolina workforce," she said. "And a stronger workforce will attract new economic investment to our rural communities and our state."

The Belk announcement came the same day that President Obama held an education summit that N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson and Carol Folt of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill planned to attend.

Woodson has said colleges need to help children in families with limited incomes and no history of higher education attend and graduate from college. He says too many students give up early on education because they don't understand what's necessary to be successful.