Jose Alex Reyes, an incoming freshman and Odyssey Scholar at Elon University, participated in the “It Takes A Village” Project since he was in first grade. The “It Takes A Village” Project is a program where Elon students and other volunteers provide tutoring services to K-12 students in the Alamance-Burlington School System.  

That’s why he is excited to become involved in the program next year, and he hopes the program’s newest expansion will allow even more students in Alamance County to receive the same specialized education and learning opportunities he had. 

“It’s not just for me tutoring, it’s more of having to be with people around me who are constantly pushing me and constantly motivating me to become a better person,” Reyes said. “Overall, I am still involved because I’m truly passionate, and I want to see the change within other students.”

The “It Takes A Village” Project received a $1.25 million grant from the Oak Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on addressing global, social and environmental issues, to expand tutoring outreach in Alamance County. Based in Switzerland, the Oak Foundation has supported the Elon tutoring program for the past 12 years, according to program director Jean Rattigan-Rohr.

The grant is a continuation of the partnership between Elon University and the Alamance-Burlington School System and provides tutoring services to K-12 students. President of Elon University Connie Book said during the June 9 press conference that the grant will allow 1,200 students in the Alamance-Burlington School System to receive tutoring services from Elon students and other volunteers starting this fall. 

“It truly is a village focused on literacy and learning,” Book said. “The Village Project has helped build a solid educational foundation and provided these young students a pathway and a vision for personal academic success.” 

Rattigan-Rohr told Elon News Network she hopes funding from the new grant will help assist students in Alamance County who have struggled with online learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to Rattigan-Rohr, the tutoring program will partner with all 12 Title I elementary schools in the county. Title I schools are given supplemental federal funds to help low-income students meet their educational needs and goals. 

“Elementary-grade students seem to be the students who really, really struggled this past year, and we decided, ‘you know what, we really need to focus on the foundation grades,’” Rattigan-Rohr said.

A new partnership between the “It Takes A Village” Project, Elon’s physician assistant program and Alamance Community College will be created as a result of the grant to integrate medical science education into middle schools throughout the county. About 100 middle school students who are enrolled in the ACC Minority Males in Medicine program, a program primarily designed for male middle school students with minority identities, will be able to receive specialized science instruction from students, faculty and staff at Elon’s School of Health Sciences. 

Algie Gatewood, the president of ACC, said the timing of the grant “couldn’t have been better” and hopes to continue to bring in medical professionals to work with middle school students.