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City Year Baton Rouge Executives for Education Breakfast

March 13, 2013

By Morgan Wampold, LSU Student

This morning nearly 30 local business leaders joined us at our first annual Executives for Education Breakfast to learn more about the impact 62 City Year corps members are having on student performance in East Baton Rouge Parish and how community members can get involved. A big thank you to the hosts of this morning’s festivities and long-time City Year supporters: Mayor-President Kip Holden, CEO of Albemarle Corporation Luke Kissam, and CEO of Lamar Advertising Company Sean Reilly.

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Corps Member Laura Boles, and breakfast guests Robert Schneckenburger, Dane Andreeff, and City Year Board Member Tommy Teepell.

City Year corps members donned their red jackets and Timberland boots as they excitedly greeted guests and shared their experiences serving in four East Baton Rouge Parish schools. Executive Director of City Year Baton Rouge Laura Hamm, and Mayor–President Kip Holden kicked off the morning. Mayor Holden emphasized the importance of young people to our city’s future, as well as the great potential that all children possess within themselves. With programs like City Year, Holden said, “We can truly help children live up to this potential.”

Albemarle Corporation CEO Luke Kissam shared why he and the Albemarle Foundation support City Year Baton Rouge, encouraging the audience to get involved any way possible because it is important to “allocate resources where you can make a difference, where you can move the people.”

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Corps member Andrew Johnson shares about the impact he is making at Belaire High School with Pastor Raymond Jetson.

Following Kissam’s testimonial was corps member Andrew Johnson, who serves on the Albemarle Foundation team at Belaire High School. He shared that the work he and his team does is “improving education and improving lives,” and this is what City Year is all about. He also shared about a particular student he has worked with this year, who started the school year with failing grades but has improved to a B average after working one-on-one with Andrew.  The story Andrew shared is just one story about the 17 students he works one-on- one with, and he just one of 62 corps members serving in Baton Rouge, underscoring the results that make City Year vital to so many schools and students.

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CEO and City Year Co-Founder Michael Brown addresses guests at the breakfast.

City Year CEO and co-founder Michael Brown gave the keynote address, sharing the story of the creation and early struggles the organization faced as well as how much it has evolved over the past 24 years. He also shared big dreams on how the organization plans to scale both nationally and in Baton Rouge. Although City Year works in some very large communities such as New York and Miami, he feels there is strength in smaller communities such as Baton Rouge, where people know each other. He urged those in attendance, “We need to go deep together… And make sure [students] stay on a path to graduate. We have to go long together. We have to stick to things. If something works, we need to stick to it. We need to go together.”

Laura Poché, Advisory Board Chair of City Year Baton Rouge, closed out the morning, encouraging members of the business community to spread the word about City Year. As she put it, “There is a plan and I as an individual can help. One person can make a difference.” Each day, City Year corps members make a difference in the lives of struggling students—we hope we have inspired some new faces to do the same.

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