Villa, a retail chain located on East Fourth Street, is offering Lehigh students scholarship and engagement opportunities in an attempt to bring the local community and Lehigh students closer together.
The “Show and Tell” Scholarship awards students up to $1,000 if they create a short video identifying a person, place or thing within the community that matters to them. Students must then post this video on Instagram with the hashtag, #ShowandTellVILLA. The videos will be judged on novelty and ingenuity, and the selection process is based on the student’s story.
“The ‘show your stuff’ story tells itself for you, it shows your passion,” said Kyle Kopervas, an assistant manager of Villa.
Students can apply if they are enrolled in an undergraduate program, a legal resident of the United States, between 16 and 27 years of age and have an Instagram account. The deadline for the scholarship is Sept. 30. Villa has yet to receive applications.
While Villa stores have locations in more than 10 states across the U.S., each store is part of the company’s greater “join the movement” initiative. This seeks “to revitalize the urban communities where (they) operate by developing, supporting and delivering opportunities that provide educational support, environmental improvement and economic empowerment,” according to the company’s website.
As part of its efforts to bridge the gap between the Bethlehem community and Lehigh students, Villa hosted its first student-DJ event Sept. 16.
Villa allows student DJs to play in the store to increase their public exposure and to promote their own brands and products. Kopervas said he wants all of the Villa employees to develop a relationship with the student DJs.
“There’s no monetary value, it’s more of a connection of cross-promotion,” Kopervas said.
Villa’s student-DJ event featured 7G, a Lehigh student-DJ group. 7G’s two DJs, Frankie Rodriguez, ’19, and Donterrius Walker, ’19, prepared for the Villa event for weeks. Their new album, Heuristic, was released Sept. 7, and Walker said he appreciates the exposure Villa is trying to provide the group.
“We’re not just regular DJs,” Rodriguez said. “We do more than go to parties and play music, and we’re looking to go to the top.”
Villa serves as a starting base for these DJs to rise in success, Kopervas said. Villa’s main goal is to get the Lehigh community more involved.
“Through this DJ event, we’re bringing students in to curate conversation in the community,” Kopervas said.
Villa also sells Lehigh T-shirts located behind the register for an add-on to students’ regular purchases. It sells the shirts for $5 and offer Lehigh students 20 percent off its merchandise on Thursdays.
“The T-shirts have been here for five or six years, and it just took the right people to make the connections in order to sell them,” Kopervas said.
Selling Lehigh T-shirts provides Villa the chance to create styles that reveal students’ inner character and gives the store insight into what appeals most to consumers.
Coral Garcia, ’19, said Villa’s attempt to reach out to Lehigh students is not a bad one.
“For a five buck oversized Lehigh T-shirt, I would definitely buy it,” Garcia said.
In addition to selling T-shirts, Villa hopes to build a relationship with the Lehigh football team.
“We’re planning on the football players to be the faces of the Villa brand in the community,” Kopervas said.
Colon said he has yet to personally reach out to the football team because of the start of a busy season, and the idea of student-athlete models is still a work in progress.
However, Lehigh football player Kareem Montgomery, ’19, said he would consider an opportunity to collaborate with Villa.
Through the scholarship program, Lehigh T-shirts and a relationship with the football team, Villa’s overarching goal is to inspire community activism by reaching out to Lehigh students.
“We want students to show how they can work together and grow so when they leave, they’ll remember they got that experience from this store,” Kopervas said. “We want to create long-lasting friendships.”