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BELK, DISCOVERY EDUCATION AND ISTE INSPIRE MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS TO DRIVE CHANGE IN THEIR LOCAL COMMUNITIES WITH THE BELK SERVICE LEARNING CHALLENGE

By Abi Mandelbaum
October 1st, 2014

— In Its Third Year, Service-Based Competition Invites Students to Submit Videos Showcasing Action Plans to Solve Community Issues, Offers Supporting Curriculum and Awards Up to $30,000 in Scholarships —

Silver Spring, Md. (October 1, 2014) – Belk, Discovery Education and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) announced today the back-to-school launch of the Belk Service Learning Challenge, a comprehensive standards-aligned program encouraging middle school students to facilitate positive changes in their communities by applying critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity skills to a service-learning project of their choice.

Now in its third year, the Belk Service Learning Challenge invites students in grades 6-8 who reside in one of the 16 states where Belk has a presence – including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia – to work in teams of up to four students with the support and guidance of a teacher/mentor to identify an issue in their local community and design an action plan to implement a solution.

To enter the Challenge, teams will submit a 1-2 minute video describing the community issue, a summary of the team’s research including who or what led to the problem and what has been done to address it, and an action plan to implement a solution and scale the project to a broader audience. The deadline to submit video entries is February 27, 2015.

“For our project, my team organized a book drive to make libraries for girls who didn’t have books,” said previous winner Colson Dennis, student at The 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue, City Schools of Decatur, GA. “I will continue to give back to my community because I see the hope and joy I bring to others, and the difference I can make.”

Previous Challenge winners include students from Neuse Christian Academy in Raleigh, NC, who worked with Burmese refugees in their community to help them find jobs and improve their English speaking and reading abilities. Students from Hinds County School District’s Main Street Restart Center in Mississippi created a plan to fight obesity in their state and community for all ages, which included a new community walking track. Students from Richland County School District One’s St. Andrews Middle School in South Carolina performed random acts of kindness to spread cheer including a clothing drive, spa day for young girls in a battered women’s shelter and an Easter egg hunt at a local day care facility.

“Being involved in our communities has been a part of Belk’s DNA since our founding more than 125 years ago, and it remains a core value today,” said Jessica Graham, Belk’s Vice President of Communications and Community Relations. “Through the Belk Service Learning Challenge, we have the opportunity to teach students about the importance of service and giving back. Not only do the students learn about service learning, but they make a difference through their projects.”

Created solely to support these students through every step of the Challenge, the dynamic online destination BelkServiceLearningChallenge.com equips 6th- 8th grade educators with free, standards-based service-learning curriculum, including lesson plans and multimedia tools that reinforce the importance of social responsibility and volunteerism to societies and economies.

“We are pleased to continue our work with Belk and Discovery Education on this powerful, service-learning initiative. By giving students options to become more engaged in their learning, they have the ability to impact the world around them,” said Craig Thibaudeau, Chief External Relations Officer of ISTE. “Programs like this put students back in the center of learning and help us create a more connected world by linking technology, social responsibility and volunteerism, and 21st century learning.”

A panel of judges will review submitted videos based on the following criteria: Community problem identified based on research (30%), action plan (30%), creativity (20%) and overall presentation (20%). Three teams with the highest scores will win a grand prize of up to $10,000.

“We are proud to partner with Belk and ISTE to provide students and their teachers with an opportunity to connect classroom lessons to real-world issues, and make a positive impact in their communities,” said Mary Rollins, senior vice president of Discovery Education. “Through participation in the Challenge, students learn the value of completing a project from start to finish, and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment from giving back to their communities.”

For more information on the Belk Service Learning Challenge or to view the free classroom resources, please visit www.BelkServiceLearningChallenge.com.

About Belk, Inc.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Belk, Inc. (www.belk.com) is the nation’s largest family owned and operated department store company with 299 Belk stores located in 16 Southern states and a growing digital presence. Its belk.com website 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. 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. In the fiscal year ended Feb. 1, 2014, the company and its associates, customers and vendors donated more than $20.9 million to communities within Belk market areas.

Belk offers many ways to connect via digital and social media, including Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus and Belk Blog, and provides exclusive offers, fashion updates, sales notifications and coupons via email or mobile phone text messages. Customers can also download the latest Belk mobile apps for the iPad, iPhone or Android.

About Discovery Education

Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content and professional development 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 and primary schools in England, 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.

About ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier nonprofit organization serving educators and education leaders committed to empowering connected learners in a connected world. ISTE serves more than 100,000 education stakeholders throughout the world.

ISTE’s innovative offerings include the ISTE Conference & Expo — one of the biggest, most comprehensive ed tech events — as well as the widely adopted ISTE Standards for learning, teaching and leading in the digital age and a robust suite of professional learning resources, including webinars, online courses, consulting services for schools and districts, books, and peer-reviewed journals and publications. For more information, visit iste.org. Connect with ISTE via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.