The Belk Foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina, has announced a new strategic focus aimed at creating equitable access to effective teachers for public school students in the state.
Over the next five years, the foundation will support efforts to expand the pool of beginning teachers in North Carolina through partnerships between teacher preparation providers and school districts and will advocate for innovative staffing models that enable already effective teachers to reach more students directly. Teachers are a critical in-school factor for student success, and North Carolina students in high-poverty schools are half as likely to have access to a highly effective teacher than those in low-poverty schools — a state of affairs that contributes to gaps in opportunity for students who are from low-income families and/or of color. In addition to its new strategic focus, the foundation remains committed to increasing reading proficiency among third-graders in the state, including its community-driven Read Charlotte initiative, which aims to double the percentage of third-graders in the city reading at or above grade level.
"When students have access to excellent teachers, something exceptional sparks — students are engaged and make the academic gains that are so critical for life success," said Belk Foundation board chair John R. Belk. "There are excellent teachers across all communities in North Carolina. However, the data shows that the pool of effective teachers needs to drastically increase to meet the needs of our students, especially in high poverty schools."