SILVER SPRING, Md., Sept. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- For the second year in a row, Belk, Discovery Education and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) are teaming up to encourage students to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to real-life challenges and facilitate positive changes in their communities. Targeting new cities and expanding to include fourth and fifth-graders, the second year of the Belk Service Learning Challenge will once again encourage students to improve their communities by undertaking a service-learning project of their choice.
The Belk Service Learning Challenge is currently open to all students in grades 4-8 living within 50 miles of Atlanta, Ga., Birmingham, Ala., and Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C. Working in teams of two to four with the support and guidance of a teacher/mentor, students are asked to identify a community issue and create an action plan using core classroom skills to solve the problem.
Entries for the Challenge are due by January 31, 2014. The grand prize winning team in each state will receive a $1,000 scholarship per student team member and a $250 teacher award. The second place team per state will receive a $500 scholarship per student team member and a $100 teacher award. The winning teams will also receive Belk prize packs for each student team member and teacher and will be celebrated at Belk in-store events in the spring.
"Taking an active role in our communities has been a core value at Belk since our founding almost 125 years ago, and teaming up with Discovery Education and ISTE in this initiative provides us an opportunity to teach students in our markets about the importance of service and giving back," said Jessica Graham, Belk's vice president of communications and community relations. "The winners of the inaugural Challenge have set the bar very high, and we are looking forward to seeing transformative projects from new participants."
Winners of the inaugural year of the Challenge included the Neuse Christian Academy in Raleigh, N.C. who created an assistance program for a group of Burmese refugees living in the Raleigh area. With the prize money awarded to them, the students from Neuse Christian Academy organized a series of English language classes, a job fair, acclimation kit, and lobbied their local congressman for relief.
"Service learning projects like the Belk Service Learning Challenge are not only a terrific way to show youth that corporate America is interested in education but this type of project also serves as an incentive outside of the normal routine of school to recognize and motivate exceptional students," said Les Burleson, student advisor to last year's Grand Prize winners from Raleigh, NC. "The benefits are undeniable. Teachers can use the Challenge as a part of their classroom differentiation plan and students can stretch their boundaries in ways that would otherwise not be available."
To supplement the efforts of these students in their service learning projects, dynamic online destination BelkServiceLearningChallenge.com anchors the Challenge and equips 4th-8th grade classrooms with free, standards-based service-learning curriculum, including lesson plans and multimedia tools.
About Belk, Inc. Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk, Inc. (belk.com) is the nation's largest family owned and operated department store company with 301 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence. Founded in 1888 by William Henry Belk in Monroe, N.C., the company is in the third generation of Belk family leadership and has been committed to community involvement since its inception. Each year, Belk gives a portion of its pretax income back to the communities it serves. In fiscal year ending Jan. 31, 2013, the company and its associates, customers and vendors, donated more than $19 million to those communities. Belk.com offers a wide assortment of national brands and private label fashion apparel, shoes and accessories for the entire family along with top name cosmetics, a wedding registry and a large selection of quality merchandise for the home. To connect with Belk go to Belk Get Connected.
About Discovery Education Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content that supports the implementation of Common Core, professional development, assessment tools, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Available in over half of all U.S. schools, community colleges and in 50 countries around the world, Discovery Education partners with districts, states and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that accelerate academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.