Belk Inc-

Charlotte Students Unveil Original Boutiques at Belk, Inc.

Eastway Middle School students in Charlotte, NC, spent one afternoon each week this fall participating in their own version of the hit show “Project Runway,” learning what it takes to discover and sell today’s hottest fashion designs. After 10 weeks of hard work it was time to show Charlotte what the students had learned by displaying their very own boutiques. Their visual displays were unveiled at the Belk Corporate office on Thursday, December 15th, 2011, to a crowd of Belk employees. Brooke Stephens, an assistant buyer for Belk, led the apprenticeship that took place every Thursday afternoon. Halfway through the semester the students had the opportunity to visit the Belk SouthPark store and were treated to a tour from store manager, Randy Dell. In addition, students had the opportunity to select the latest fashion trends but were challenged to remain within a specific budget. Students posed in their chosen outfits in front of the holiday display at the SouthPark store, and to wrap up the tour that day, Belk generously donated gift bags filled with holiday goodies, ties for the young men, and Clinique make up samples for the young ladies.

In addition to the engaging field trip to the store, Brooke surprised the students with the opportunity to showcase their learning at the Belk Corporate offices on December 15th, 2011. The students walked through the office doors dressed to impress in business attire. They were armed with store logos, sample budgets and other boutique details - products of their semester-long work. Belk bystanders were blown away, and the “Lil' Miss Swaggar” boutique was definitely a crowd favorite. Students had the opportunity to network with a number of Belk employees including Johanna Anderson, Belk Foundation Director.

Citizen Schools is fortunate to have the support from a business like Belk and its employees who work side by side with our staff to ensure all students are prepared for high school, college and future careers.

If this story has inspired you to get involved please consider volunteering in 2012, or attending our 6 Degrees of Charlotte event on February 2nd at the Mint Museum in Uptown Charlotte. For more information on volunteering visit:, and for more information on our 6 Degrees of Charlotte event visit:

About the Belk Foundation

The Belk Foundation is a private, family foundation founded in 1928. Over the past 10 years, it has awarded grants totaling more than $33 million to non-profit organizations and causes benefiting communities where Belk associates live and work. The mission of The Belk Foundation is to invest in schools and organizations that work aggressively to ensure all students graduate from high school and continue on an intentional path toward college, career and life. For more information about The Belk Foundation, contact: Johanna Anderson, 704-426-8322 or In May 2009, The Belk Foundation awarded Citizen Schools North Carolina $150,000 in support of its Apprenticeship and 8th Grade Academy programs.

About Citizen Schools

Citizen Schools is a leading national education initiative that uniquely mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement and bridge the achievement gap by teaching skill-building apprenticeships after school. At 37 middle schools in seven states across the country, Citizen Schools programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing low-income students for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life.

The Citizen Schools program launched in 2006 and currently serves approximately 400 students in North Carolina and engages over 200 volunteers. Learn more about Citizen Schools’ programs and results at


Belk Foundation Highlights Partnership in North Carolina

Which fashion trends were "cool" when you were in middle school?  Thanks to Belk employees, our students are becoming fashion forward and moving toward promising careers in visual merchandising while learning from real-world professionals. Belk Inc. and Belk Foundation have partnered with Citizen Schools over the past few years providing several volunteers from local stores and making financial investments to sustain our work in North Carolina.

Check out Belk Foundation's Grantee Spotlight section to learn how the foundation is increasing high school graduation rates through its partnership with Citizen Schools.



Are YOU Confident Enough?

While Belk, Inc. isn’t new to supporting Citizen Schools and teaching apprenticeships, rookie Citizen Teachers Keonda, April, Timaya, and Arielle are. You would think that this team of ladies would have been extremely nervous about pitching their apprenticeship to students, but that supposition could not be further from the truth.  Armed with a microphone, speakers, strobe light, and chairs, the Belk team managed to transform the classroom into a fashion show catwalk in minutes.

Unsuspecting students entered the strobe-lit room to the sound of bass-blasting techno music. Fashion models began to strut down the newly erected catwalk as the presenter described the fashions they were wearing.  Students were magically teleported from the classrooms of Henderson Middle School to a a Jean-Charles de Castelbajac fashion show in Paris.

When the lights came on, every students’ eyes were on the new Belk, Inc. Citizen Teachers. They asked the kids, “Who’s excited about fashion?” and all the hands shot up in the air. Our new Citizen Teachers have proven that, “it can be your 1st rodeo or your 5th rodeo, but it doesn’t matter as long as you’re confident enough to ride the bull!“  We just wonder if the bull will be wearing Jean-Charles de Castelbajac.

We're Only as Strong as Our Community Partnerships

If our collaboration with Belk, Inc. and The Belk Foundation is any indication of our durability, we’re approaching Gorilla Glue status!  Beginning with a $150,000 investment in our 8th Grade Academy and apprenticeship programs in 2009, the Belk Foundation expanded its support to include an introduction to Randy Dell, Manager, Southpark Belk.  For the past three semesters, Randy’s team at Belk-Southpark has collaborated with our Citizen Teachers and students to create visual displays, present fashion shows, and help our budding fashionistas learn first-hand the intricacies of fashion merchandising.

This apprenticeship model, piloted in Charlotte, has now expanded to collaborations with stores in both Henderson and Durham.  Randy Knight, Manager of the Belk Northern Division Corporate Store, took our new relationship to the next level; he appointed a day in February  “Jeans Day” in support of Citizen Schools, donating $1,200 of the day’s jeans sales to support our program at Lowe’s Grove Middle School in Durham.  Funds were used to purchase Flip digital cameras, Lego Robotics kits, and other technology to enrich and enliven the apprenticeship experience for our students.  Needless to say, we’re stuck on Belk!