Global Village Project

By on Mar 7, 2024 in Giving

Each year, Yardi distributes philanthropic aid to organizations selected by its employees.

Decatur, Ga. based Global Village Project (GVP), founded in 2009, is a one-of-a-kind, tuition-free middle school created to meet refugee girls’ unique and holistic needs. Refugees arriving in the U.S. often find their children facing obstacles to an equitable education or needing to catch up academically.

New students are typically placed in classrooms according to their age. Girls — who often have additional family responsibilities inside the home and who may face cultural pressure to pursue paths other than education — are at further risk of dropping out of school.

“In contrast to these typical odds, when given access to a school community that is deeply committed to understanding and meeting their unique needs, we see our students and alumni thriving within and beyond the classroom,” said Leah Kuenzi, senior grants manager for GVP.

GVP’s mission is to reactivate the schooling of refugee girls so they can access all the benefits of an education. GVP is a dual-accredited (State of Georgia and Southern Association of Independent Schools) special-purpose middle school offering a three-year accelerated curriculum designed so that students can overcome gaps in their education and get caught up academically before moving on to high school and beyond. Typically, 45 students are enrolled yearly, the maximum capacity for the current space.

Growing at a rapid pace

In recent years, the Atlanta area has seen a 300% increase in refugee arrivals. Per this trend, since 2017, GVP has had to turn away, on average, 44% of the students applying each year due to the limited scale of operations and space constraints. GVP plans to relocate to a larger venue to accommodate its growing needs, with the intention of being able to accept 100 kids yearly. Luckily, a large donation was made, and GVP will be renovating a three-building campus with over 26,000 square feet of space just four miles away from its current location.

Funding from Yardi has helped GVP respond with agility to areas of greatest need and support for their current operations.

“While all grant funds are meaningful to our organization, it’s especially exciting to know that our work caught the attention and won the support of the entire team at the Atlanta Yardi office,” explained Kuenzi. “As our name implies, we know that “it takes a village” and are so grateful that Yardi Systems chooses to be a part of ours!”

Mathematical Thinking

Caroline Henry is a math teacher at Global Village Project. She teaches newcomers and intermediate students. Henry teaches math a bit differently than a typical math teacher would. Instead of students just showing a numerical answer, she invites the students to the board and has them explain their thinking of the problem and their strategy aloud and analyze as a group what the best strategies are. Henry always allows those to “pass” if they wish, but to her delight, most girls jump at the chance to share their mathematical thinking with their school sisters.

Last year, one reserved student would clap with such enthusiasm that it quickly became a tradition.

“If you feel safe and brave enough to stand in front of the class, show us your math and explain it in English, you deserve a round of applause!”

This same student has carried this tradition forward to a new group of girls, and the classroom is full of shouts of encouragement, congratulations, clapping, and so much joy.

Henry says this is the joy and great privilege of her work at GVP.

“These seemingly small things that we celebrate each day at GVP really are not small things at all: a girl has survived, a girl has adapted and is beginning to thrive, a girl is getting an education,” said Henry.

At GVP, refugee girls feel safe taking risks, trying new things, and honoring one another.

“Thank you for your part in making all this possible. Your donation means that we can continue the work of reactivating the education of refugee girls wherein, among other things, we work to create supportive learning environments,” Henry shared.

Volunteer Opportunities

Global Village Project welcomes more than 100 volunteers into its school every week. Volunteers are critical in supporting GVP, expanding the school’s capacity to impact refugee girls’ education. GVP is not currently accepting applications for classroom volunteers but welcomes applications for its mentoring program. Please get in touch with Stacey-Ann Gordon at [email protected] for more information.

GVP’s capacity may be limited, but its impact is profound.

Nearly 70% of its students attend high school, and 30% attend college. The demand for its mission is large and growing. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that there are 103 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced by war, persecution or natural disaster.

“Each day, we are reminded of the growing need for work like ours, with troubling reminders that global conflict is on the rise and that displacement is becoming more common,” shares Kuenzi. 

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