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Meet our 2019 Beneficiary

Global Village Project

The leadership team that produces the annual Madison Avenue Soapbox Derby, a family event that has become a Decatur tradition, today announced the selection of Global Village Project as the beneficiary for the 2019 race.

Established in 2009, Global Village Project (GVP) is an innovative school for refugee young women. Students come from more than 12 different countries, including Congo, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Burma and Syria, and collectively speak more than 16 languages. The school’s curriculum equips refugee newcomers with the academic and social skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond. In a typical school year, GVP students participate in more than 25 experiential learning trips and hands-on field trips. In 2018, the first of GVP’s 100+ alumnae graduated from college.

“We are deeply grateful to have been named the beneficiary of this year’s race,” said Global Village Project director Amy Pelissero. “For a decade, our school in Decatur has been providing refugee young women from around the world with the education they need to pursue their dreams, and Decatur has been a warm and welcoming home. This partnership with the Madison Avenue Community Fund will provide our students with the educational opportunities and experiences that prepare them for success in high school here in their new home.”

Since its origins in 2011, the Madison Avenue Soapbox Derby has raised cumulatively more than $150,000 for local charities serving children. Some two-dozen local businesses in Decatur and surrounding areas helped underwrite the 2018 event, which raised money for a great cause, drawing an estimated 1,500 attendees and featuring nearly 100 racers.

“The Madison Ave Soapbox Derby is a wonderful local tradition that continues to grow each year,” said Madison Avenue Community Fund board member Jay Gyuricza, whose family has lived on Madison Avenue since 2014. “It is amazing to see the creativity and craftsmanship that goes into building the race-cars, and is made even better by raising money for a worthwhile cause that supports local children.”

Global Village Project will use the funds from the 2019 event to support STEAM integrated instruction and hands-on learning for students. Experiments, field trips, integrated projects, technology, and teaching artists provide students with opportunities to experience new worlds and new learning in meaningful and transformative ways.

For details on making a donation to support Global Village Project, signing on as an event sponsor, competing in the derby, or volunteering, visit

Global Village Project 2018 from Jenifer Cooper on Vimeo.