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Wells Fargo Foundation supports expansion of Elon’s 'Village Project'

A childhood literacy initiative at Elon University will add a summer reading camp to its list of programs for boys and girls in the local community who encounter trouble learning to read.

The "It Takes a Village" Project at Elon University for five years has paired students studying to be teachers with families who have children who encounter extra obstacles in learning to read.

The Wells Fargo Foundation made a gift to Elon University this fall to grow a literacy program that each year helps dozens of local families with children who struggle learning to read.

A $10,000 grant to the university’s “It Takes a Village" Project, part of Elon’s Center for Access and Success, will fund a summer literacy camp next year where youth from the greater Alamance County community will receive extra assistance from professors and college students at a time when children are not in school.

Started in 2008 as part of a required literacy methods course for education majors, the Village Project has traditionally paired children and Elon students for weekly tutoring at May Memorial Library in downtown Burlington, N.C. Elon students assess the individual reading challenges and show parents techniques they can use at home to help improve reading skills.

The program until now has been limited to the fall and spring semesters.

“We are pleased to support Elon University’s Village Project,” said Jerry Bailey, market president for Wells Fargo in Alamance County. “We believe every child deserves a quality education. Wells Fargo is known as America’s community bank and we’re responsible for promoting the long-term economic prosperity and quality of life for everyone in our communities. If our communities prosper, we all prosper.”

The Village Project has expanded in recent years to assist students with science concepts and music, and it now helps children in pre-kindergarten who are siblings of those in the traditional program.

Parents already involved in the Village Project have consistently asked Elon University professors for summer help. Funding from the Wells Fargo Corporation allows administrators to address that summer reading instruction request. Plans are for a three-week literacy development camp for as many as 100 elementary and middle school students.

“We are very grateful for Wells Fargo’s support of our Village Project, one of the initiatives in the Center for Access and Success at Elon,” said Associate Professor Jean Rattigan-Rohr, who conceptualized and developed the Village Project and today serves as director of the center. “We warmly welcome them as a community partner in this effort as we work together to encourage student success at the K-12 level, which is so vital for advancement to higher education.”

Rohr said she has been in negotiations with faculty colleagues and with Associate Professor Angela Owusu-Ansah, director of the university’s Master of Education program, to determine how best to support students.

The Village Project over the past two years has been replicated at universities in North Carolina, and Oregon and at an evening institute in Jamaica. Elon’s program also now includes science and music components as well as classes for parents who themselves may be learning to speak English and Spanish.

Eric Townsend,
10/24/2013 1:05 PM