Entergy, ExxonMobil, Capital Area United Way, Louisiana State University, East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Other Partners Launch Groundbreaking Poverty Reduction Program
- October 6, 2011
Left to right, LSU AgCenter Garden Specialist Dr. Kiki Fontenot, Istrouma High School Math teacher Christine Fontenot, East Baton Rouge Parish School System Superintendant John Dilworth, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Manager Steve Blume and Entergy Louisiana, LLC President and CEO Bill Mohl break ground on Istrouma High School’s first community garden. This garden project officially launched the Istrouma School Zone Initiative, and will be used not only as a teaching tool but also will provide area residents in need with fresh produce.
Istrouma High School cheerleaders (left to right, Linda Hawkins, Diandra Harris, Tieisha Ellois and Destiny Franklin are shown planting) seeds with the assistance of LSU AgCenter Garden specialist Dr. Kiki Fontenot and Justine Swarner, an ExxonMobil employee volunteer.
Entergy employee volunteers, Mamie Burrell and Dana McKearn, center, help Istrouma High School students plant the first community garden.
On Monday, October 3, a group of key Baton Rouge businesses, educational institutions, community and non-profit organizations and service providers joined forces to launch a unique program aimed at reducing poverty for the students and families of IstroumaHigh School and its attendance zone.
Entergy Louisiana, ExxonMobil, Capital Area United Way, the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, Education’s Next Horizon, Louisiana Department of Education, LouisianaStateUniversity and Object 9 are leading the way to increase graduation rates, reduce truancy and provide community development through a partnership known as the School Zone Initiative.
The partnership was created to recruit as many as 50 local and national non-profit organizations, government agencies and other businesses for a "place-based" program designed to focus and coordinate their efforts to improve economic development and the quality of life in this largely underserved community. It is loosely based on the concepts developed in New York City's Harlem Children’s Zone and other similar programs.
"Research tells us that high school aged children's ability to learn and succeed in school is directly impacted by poverty. We believe that by reducing the impact of poverty on children and their families we can create an environment that allows our children to focus on school,” said Bill Mohl, president and chief executive officer of Entergy Louisiana. “We are excited to work side-by-side with the partners of this initiative and to leverage our resources with the Istrouma faculty and staff to provide the students with the skills and tools they need for achieving economic security, a better future and to build a stronger, sustainable community."
“Istrouma High became ExxonMobil’s first adopted school some 20 years ago, so the Istrouma School Zone Initiative is a natural fit for us. It is exciting to see the shared expertise and resources of all of these organizations coming together to address the many challenges facing these students and their families,” said ExxonMobil Baton Rouge Refinery Manager Steve Blume.
“We are all familiar with the African proverb that ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Well, today the village takes responsibility,” said Istrouma High School Principal Linda Lewis. “The Istrouma Adopt a School Zone Initiative is an example of what true dedication and commitment can do if we are to eliminate poverty in a community. Such an initiative can only have a positive impact on the lives of students and families in the Istrouma School Zone.”
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, cutting the Louisiana drop out rate in half would strengthen the economy by creating 900 new jobs and increasing tax revenue by $7.3 million, increasing home sales by $250 million, increasing earnings by $136 million and increasing investments by $33 million.
“The impact of this initiative is immeasurable, and the key to its success is active participation. We challenge people - neighbors, alumni, small businesses, civic and non-profit organizations - to join in this unique effort to build a stronger Istrouma community,” Mohl concluded.
Following the kick-off press conference, several school, business and community volunteers joined Istrouma’s newly created Go Green Garden Club and representatives from the LSUAgriculturalCenter to plant the first community garden on campus. The garden will teach students about responsibility, science and math and provide those in need who live in the area with fresh, healthy produce.
Principal Brister in Washington, D.C., to Accept McKinley Middle School’s Second Blue Ribbon Award
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Principal Herman Brister (pictured, left) and the school’s Teacher of the Year, Lynn Williamson (right), were in Washington, D.C., accepting McKinley Middle Academic Magnet School’s National Blue Ribbon Award from U.S. Department of Education’s Director of National Blue Ribbon Schools Program Aba Kumi (center). The event, which recognized some 314 schools from across the United States, was held at the Omni Hotel. Click herefor story.
Subscribe to the EBRPSS eNews to receive our bi-weekly eNewsletter.