Connect: Amplifying the impact of the Village Project

A new $1.25 million grant from Oak Foundation, will allow Elon’s “It takes a Village” Project to serve approximately 1,200 Alamance County students this fall.

When Jose Alex Reyes graduated from Cummings High School in Burlington, North Carolina, in the spring, he already knew he was joining Elon’s Class of 2025 in the fall as an Odyssey Program scholar. It’s a continuation of an academic journey with Elon that Reyes began as a first grader when he was selected to participate in the university’s “It Takes a Village” Project, an innovative community tutoring initiative within Elon’s Center for Access and Success.

Jose Alex Reyes ’25, working with an Elon student through the “It Takes a Village” Project when he was in elementary school.

Thanks to a new $1.25 million grant from Oak Foundation, a global philanthropic organization, the Village Project will be able to impact even more students like Reyes. The grant from the Oak Foundation, which has supported the initiative since 2011, will allow the Village Project to serve approximately 1,200 Alamance County students this fall, three times the number of students currently enrolled in the project. About 300 Elon University students and other volunteers annually will tutor children and partner with parents and guardians, 60 public school teachers, and school liaisons and principals in all 12 Title I elementary schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS).

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“The incredible generosity of the Oak Foundation has provided resources to make this unique educational partnership a reality,” said Jean Rattigan-Rohr, Elon’s vice president for access and success and the driving force behind the Village Project, during the June announcement of the Oak Foundation grant. “Unfortunately, the educational impact of the pandemic has pushed many children even further behind. …The need for intervention provided by the Village Project has never been more urgent.”

Reyes agreed. “I can say without a doubt that the Village Project has helped guide me throughout my life and shaped me to become the person I am today,” he told those gathered at the event.

In announcing the new grant, Oak Foundation noted the clear, positive impact on children’s development the Village Project has had since it launched, and how the support it provides for local students is even more critical now after students have lost ground academically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and return to in-person learning. “The Village Project is making a significant difference in our community and is transforming the lives of thousands of children,” said Elon President Connie Ledoux Book. “Through this support, Oak Foundation is investing in our future, providing an educational foundation for children who deserve an opportunity to learn and succeed in school.”

New funding from the grant will allow for a broad and multi-layered expansion of the Village Project and partnerships with the surrounding communities. Included in the expansion plans is a new partnership between the Village Project, Elon’s Physician Assistant Studies’ “Underserved Populations” course and Alamance Community College (ACC). The plan is to create “Start Early in Medicine,” a new health science academic learning component of ACC’s “Medical Bridge: Minority Males in Medicine” middle school/high school project.

Learn more about “Theme 3: Connect” of the Boldly Elon strategic plan.