( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Tanya James Bring Better Education to Children
ENSPIRE Contributor: Xiangxi Kong
The Tanya S James Foundation with the ProSeed Foundation held an opening ceremony for the Tanya S James Elementary School in Kpakoko Villiage of the Divo, Ivory Coast in West Africa on Wednesday, September 20th. The governor, Local Chiefs, and other political and spiritual figures attended the ceremony. And also hundreds of adults and children from the village and surrounding areas. The school was built with three classrooms and plans to expand to six classrooms with a cafeteria for students to eat at school. During the ceremony, Tanya James was also inaugurated as Queen OMONO (which means the first daughter of the lineage) of Kpakoko Village in the Loh Djiboua Region of the Ivory Coast in West Africa.
Tanya S James is a devoted wife, mother, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. She is the founder of the Tanya S James Foundation& KJ’s Hope Foundation and the CEO of TJ Entertainment Group. Tanya S James Foundation was formally founded in 2022 as the founder’s extension to carry on the work she has been undertaking on her own for almost 20 years. The requirements of regional communities, governmental programs, and global partnerships are all important to TSJF. The partner, ProSeed is a Christian nonprofit organization with a mission to build and renovate schools in developing countries, promote S.T.E.M. education and career, and reward academic excellence through scholarships worldwide.
We interviewed Tanya James and discussed her experience and inspiration.
What made you want to be a philanthropist？
Growing up, my family didn’t have much. It was a struggle month to month for my parents to provide for us. At one point, six of us lived in a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment without central air in Nashville TN. I remember always saying, “when I become rich I am going to do ’this and that’ for other people’. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I didn’t have to be ‘rich’ to serve. I learned the art of serving with my time and my talents.
The inner joy I felt helping other people and serving in my community created a desire within me to make service a part of who I am, not just something I do. As I became more successful in my career, it afforded me the opportunity to give financially to causes and people that I believed in as well.
Educating children without proper resources is a great thing. May we know why you chose this one location to build the school? Can you share the process involved?
The Ivory Coast has a large percentage of school-age children. There are more children than qualified schools available. Many of the children walk miles through adverse conditions to makeshift schools without real teachers. If we say that children are the future, we have to make sure they are equipped with the resources they need to become those leaders.
My foundation Tanya S James Foundation worked with an organization called ProSeed Foundation to identify a village that needed a school building. ProSeed then handled all the legalities and paperwork. We only used local contractors to invest back into the community even during the building process.
You have helped many students and disadvantaged groups. What are your expectations for them?
I expect them to take full advantage of what has been gifted to them. I want them to work hard and never give up on their dreams. Then I want them to one day, pay it forward and help others.
For those children in Africa, what changes do you hope they will have after they receive their education?
Education is one of the greatest tools for breaking the generational poverty curse. It positions you to do more than your ancestors may have been able to do. I pray that they can envision a bigger and greater future for themselves and the generations to come.
Could you please share your future philanthropic plans?
Last month, construction started on the second school that we are building in West Africa. The Kendall E James Elementary School is named after my daughter. In March, construction will begin on the third school, the Kyle E James Elementary School which is named after my son.
TSJF is consistently involved in philanthropic efforts domestically as well. We recently had a sock drive and collected and donated close to 3000 socks to an organization called The Odd Sock. They provide socks to the homeless because that is an item that typically is not collected when people make donations for the homeless. Right now, we are in the midst of a food drive for a local food pantry. We have provided college scholarships, assisted with medical and living expenses, provided school supplies for teachers, and more. We are just getting started!!
Tanya S James Elementary School is not only a heart-warming project, but also a gift from a hardworking and successful woman. The school gives children the opportunity to learn and also destroys a cycle of generational poverty. For more information on The Tanya S James Foundation, please visit here.