The John M. Belk Endowment, based in Charlotte, has had as a long-term mission helping students, particularly those such as veterans and minorities, finish their higher educations. Many of those who have been helped had their educations interrupted for different reasons.
And, as anyone who has experienced such a pause can attest, it’s often difficult to go back to school. Family and children take a priority. Perhaps full-time work is the only option at a given time. The longer the wait, the less chance that someone will finish what he or she started with all good intentions.
But the Belk Endowment, with a new grant of $9.6 million, is aiming to help more community college students or former students finish their degrees. Part of the grant will focus on “Single Stop,” which is an initiative that helps students find financial aid that will enable them to complete a degree.
Such a degree is vital in the working world. Often, it now is said that a college degree is what a high school degree was only decades ago, namely an absolute necessity for anyone in the work force.
And it is the need to fill better-paying places in the job market that drives this particular effort on the part of the Belk Endowment. Having the gumption to start that pursuit of a community college degree or a diploma from a conventional four-year college is important. But that determination sometimes isn’t enough to get someone through to a diploma.
And without the final degree, one’s place in the work force is weakened. Thus, this initiative can make a big difference to the individuals who benefit and to the state of North Carolina.