Changing the Lives of ‘Corey’s Kids’

Interview with program partner, Ron Burton Training Village

The Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV) is a year-round program dedicated to character building through academic, spiritual and athletic support of challenged youth. Since its gates opened in Hubbardston, Massachusetts more than 20 years ago, RBTV has impacted thousands of lives and directly provided college and employment opportunities to many youth who were statistically unlikely to graduate high school.

The Corey C. Griffin Foundation (CCGF) is honored to partner with this one-of-a-kind program by providing financial and hands-on support.

We caught up with Executive Director Davede Alexander to hear more about RBTV, the program’s reach and its partnership with CCGF.

In a few sentences, how do you describe the goal of the RBTV?

RBTV’s main goal is to instill the core values of Love, Peace, Patience, and Humility into each child that comes through its gates. These core values are at the heart of each program and everything that RBTV does is supported by these pillars. Ultimately, we endeavor to equip young people with the skills, resources, and attitude to make winning decisions in life.

How are Ron Burton Sr.’s background and his drive reflected in the Ron Burton Training Village?

Ron Burton Training Village (RBTV) is a haven for the Ron Burtons of the world. It is a place where a child who is determined to succeed in life, but lacks the means or opportunities to do so, is provided the formula Ron Burton received from a coach and his grandmother, Shane, on how to make winning decisions. In everything we do at RBTV, we focus on the following areas of development: character, leadership, physical fitness, social, academic, and spiritual. Each day we rise to undertake an intense summer training session that includes a 4:30 a.m. wake-up, a seven-mile run, academic classes, public speaking courses, and bible study.

How does the RBTV experience differ between summer and the rest of the year?

The summers are densely packed to test and expand the mental endurance and toughness of each villager. We push each participant beyond their perceived limits in the target areas of our mission. The summer is spent raising their level of performance and setting new individual goals to close out the session. After the summer session, the villagers meet monthly at John Hancock for our Legacy of Love series. We check to make sure our young people are on track to meet their goals and to offer course correction when necessary. We also place them in front of Boston’s leaders in business, government, and the military to gain valuable insight from these social influencers. We also conduct a Thanksgiving meal for our villagers and their families at the Capital Grille on Boylston Street, followed by our Christmas party at Fenway Park. Support extends from our villagers and onto their families.

What are you most proud of when it comes to the RBTV?

We’re cautious of the word pride — however, we certainly find a great deal of satisfaction when someone visits our campus and can quickly sense a feeling of love surrounding them. It is what we work for, and it is what we aim to spread, and hope to leave as a legacy.

What is something that would surprise the general public about the campers at RBTV?

Our graduates have gone on to become everything from orthopedic surgeons, to Wall Street traders, to teachers, to Navy SEALs. Also, villagers are asked to sign a contract pledging that they will not consume alcohol, swear, use drugs, or hurt anyone emotionally or physically.

How has the Corey C. Griffin Foundation helped further the goals and reach of the RBTV?

We, at RBTV, know that we need to position ourselves for the future. RBTV has been around for over 30 years and the desire is to have the organization thrive, easily seeing 30 more. The Corey C. Griffin Foundation (CCGF) has helped us realize that vision by providing support to our children and improving the infrastructure of RBTV. They have helped us accomplish our mission and enhance our ability to report. CCGF has given us the ability to perform at a higher level. We are able to do more for our children because of the large-scale, direct impact of the Corey C. Griffin Foundation.

What should someone expect to see if they were to visit for a day during the summer?

What they see isn’t half as important as what they feel. The surrounding love will be felt in every gesture, in every handshake, in every hug. When someone drives on campus, they should expect to feel like they’re at home among family. Supporting that feeling will be a peace and serenity created by lush, manicured gardens and beautiful vistas. Between the lake, hills, and blue skies, it is a place where people come to be their best selves. We’ll have fun, enjoy a great meal, and fellowship among friends — knowing that your visit alone will make a child feel special.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We can’t thank the Corey C. Griffin Foundation enough for what they do to support us. We receive more than just dollars, but advice, encouragement, and friendship. We love the CCGF!