The Belk Foundation said Wednesday it awarded $90,000 to the Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center that will be used over the next two years to support early literacy in three Jackson cluster schools.
The grant is part of the more than $2.4 million in awards the Charlotte-based foundation handed out in the past year toward improving education.
The foundation also said it's shifting its strategy and is focusing on two areas with respect to future donation: Strengthening teachers and school leaders, and ensuring that students are achieving on or above grade level by the third grade.
“The Belk Foundation believes we can be a better investor and advocate for improving education by focusing our support on teachers, principals and students in those critical years between kindergarten and third grade,” Katie B. Morris, its chairwoman, said in a statement. “Research shows quality educators and early proficiency play a substantial role in students’ success in school and ultimately in life.”
The Belk Foundation, which gave $425,000 in grants last year to benefit students in metro Atlanta, began focusing its financial support on public education in 2010. The Foundation has invested more than $2 million annually in schools and a variety of programs including mentoring, summer learning and after-school support. Last year, the Foundation reviewed academic research and surveyed grantees, education experts and community partners about what makes the biggest impact on education.
Moving forward, the Foundation will invest in results-driven schools and nonprofits focused on:
- Strengthening teachers and leaders in public schools by
- Recruiting the most qualified candidates into the profession
- Developing current teachers and leaders
- Retaining the highest performing professionals
- Enabling K-3 students to perform on or above grade level in core subjects, with emphasis on closing the achievement gap between low-income students and their more affluent peers.
Organizations meeting criteria outlined at www.belkfoundation.org may submit a funding inquiry, and the foundation will invite selected groups to proceed through the grant process. Grant recipients are announced in November and May.
Grants will continue to go primarily to groups in Atlanta, Birmingham and Charlotte. The Foundation also will consider state initiatives aligned with the new focus in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina.
In fiscal year 2013, which ended in May, the Foundation’s grants in the greater Atlanta area grew to $425,000 and included:
- $110,000 to Fulton County Schools to redesign the district's teacher selection process using The New Teacher Project, a national program aimed at ensuring poor and minority children get equal access to effective teachers
- $90,000 to the Atlanta Speech School’s Rollins Center over two years to support early literacy in three Coan-Jackson cluster schools
- $40,000 to WINGS for Kids, an evidence-based social and emotional learning program in high-poverty elementary schools in Fulton County
- $20,000 to Horizons Atlanta, at Holy Innocents Episcopal School, for its summer program to help maintain and increase reading and math achievement for a majority Latino student population
- $20,000 to Odyssey, a comprehensive academic summer program for Atlanta Public Schools students