City Year Founding Story: It Takes a Village

Photo by Andy Dean

It takes a whole village to raise a child.

– Igbo (Nigeria) Proverb

It takes a whole village to raise a child because a child is an active social being who interacts with people who are not their parents. With each interaction, it is imperative that the child receive the same messages about what is right and wrong, what is valued and what is to be rejected, and what is safe. It is the shared values of the village, the shared commitment to each child as a loved individual and future citizen of the village, and the shared sense of collective responsibility that underscore the truth of why it takes a whole village to raise a child. If the village does not support the proper raising of a child, then a parent has a difficult road indeed, and the child is at risk.

It also takes a whole village to raise a child because a village is comprised of a diverse array of people of all ages and experiences, each of whom has something to teach a child. Similarly, “it takes a village” to achieve any large civic goal. It takes a shared vision, a set of shared values, and a shared sense of collective responsibility for the common good.


About the Photographer: Andy Dean joined City Year in 2002 as a team leader in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. He is now Vice President and Creative Director at City Year, Inc. managing all cisual aspects of the City Year brand. This photo is of a small town on the west coast of Sicily. He said, "I always loved the beauty of the varying oranges and browns of the terra cotta roofs of Italy. Although a lot has changed since they were built, this patchwork of buildings still combine to form a close-knit village."