The Village Anderson, RISE Academy
by Tamara Dreger


Your generosity funds dreams that change lives and families.

A group of seventeen young men sat in a room when their leader, Louis Jackson III, presented an idea that ultimately would help them overcome adversity and bring dreams to fruition. These young men are part of a group mentoring program in Madison County, Indiana called RISE Academy through an organization called The Village – Anderson. The young men had been gathering together for several months. The volunteer mentors had done their best to facilitate the young men learning together and coming together as a unit. Unfortunately, the older and younger boys were struggling to gel, resulting in behavioral challenges.

Jackson, Founder and CEO of Redefined Life (also known as the The Village- Anderson), was motivated to find a way to bring the young men together. The Village’s Annual Gala was in the planning stage and Louis asked the young men if they would provide entertainment for the Gala.

As soon as Jackson voiced this proposition, a young boy spoke up, “I’m a rapper. Let me rap.”

Another young man chimed in, “What would happen if we do a video?” and another, “What if we recorded a song?”

The energy kept growing as the young men brought forth ideas of writing and directing and producing. In that moment, Jackson’s head was spinning. He told them, “I think we can pull this off.”

Jackson contacted a friend, a local rapper and videographer. “Would you mentor these kids in this area to create this project?”

Jackson recognized that this project would require equipment and resources and time. He also recognized that resources were limited.

It was then that he remembered the Community Impact Grant for RISE Academy that he had received from a grant from the Madison County Community Foundation.

village anthem 2He asked his friend if he could stay within that budget and his friend agreed.

The project took off. The young men met a week later for a writing session. They learned the art of writing lyrics. It was collaboration at its best. Jackson says, “I was shocked. They were engaged in a way that we never saw.”

The whole process took roughly two months and the video was ready to be shown at the Gala. The families and supporters were amazed. One of the young men has a stutter due to a benign tumor. However, when he raps, the stutter dissipates. Another young man wrote and raps some of the lyrics. He was almost completely nonverbal when he entered the program three years earlier. His confidence grew through the project and he now has a community job and participates in varsity sports at his school. The song, “Village Anthem” is now available on YouTube and all streaming services.Village anthem

The Village started as the shadow of a dream for Jackson. The mission to proactively identify the needs of the underserved by fostering positive relationships that connect families and communities continues to expand. To continue to impact the lives of the young men and young women in Madison County, The Village needs resources. The young people need exposure to educational outings and college visits. Jackson also says that anyone can make an impact. The Village needs mentors to simply show up and be present.

“The template is to build relationships,” Jackson says, “life on life changes people.”

Would you like to know more about The Village? Visit the website, watch The Village Story, and learn about becoming a mentor.

You also don’t want to miss out on the incredible creativity of these young men. Watch the final product of “Village Anthem” on YouTube here.

Every gift, large and small, contributes to the mission of Madison County Community Foundation to increase the quality of life for the citizens of Madison County. Consider giving to the Impact Madison Fund to help us continue to meet emerging local needs. All donations to this fund will be tripled. Your generosity truly does fund life change.

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