Ben D. Johnson Educational Center Receives Proprietary School License

The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center (BDJ Center), a non-profit organization located in west Natchitoches, has made many strides since opening its doors January 18, 2019.


Many Natchitoches residents may not know that the Café is a part of the Ben D. Johnson Education Center and functions as the hands-on training environment for the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program. The fresh, made-from-scratch menu offers breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, 7AM to 2PM. All proceeds from the Café supports the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program.


The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program serves young people ages 17 – 24, who are out of work and out of school. The program offers job readiness and culinary training; and provides support to help students overcome their barriers to getting and keeping a job. In addition, participants receive a stipend and get breakfast and lunch daily.

In June, the BDJ Center was approved by the Louisiana Board of Regents and is now a Licensed Proprietary School. The responsibility of a proprietary school is to prepare individuals for gainful employment.

This allows the BDJ Center to build a strong working relationship with the Workforce Commission and ultimately help young people in the community enter and remain in the workforce and have more self-sufficient lives.

The next class starts September 9 and runs through December 30. We are currently recruiting to fill 10 openings. We are accepting applications July 22 – July 26 Monday through Friday between 1PM and 4PM. Call for further enrollment dates and times.


Donate to the program at the Center’s website
Like the Center’s Facebook pages BDJCenter and 400MLK
Patronize the Café located 400 MLK Drive, Suite J or make an online order for delivery at
Use the Café for your office lunches, plant events and private parties
Become a Partner – hire students upon graduation
Volunteer at the center
Refer potential participant
For additional information call 318-460-7460.

Pictured above from left are Shannon Tucker- Community Resources VISTA, Keyairra Mitchell- Participant, Dallas Russell-Executive Director, Christian Anderson- Participant, Jamarcus Jackson- Participant, Blaine Banghart- Volunteer, Phoenix Pichon- Participant.

7 thoughts on “Ben D. Johnson Educational Center Receives Proprietary School License

  1. Just pondering, who pays for the breakfast and lunch which I assume are free, who pays for the stipend for each participant and how much is it? These are adults 17 through 24 years of age. They should be out either enlisting in the military, if qualified, or getting a job, maybe not the management job they want at 17 to 24 but I suspect jobs are out there and also suspect most of the participants are high school drop outs because they already knew they did not need an education. If I’m wrong, tell us.

    • Greetings Mr. Holly, I appreciate your interest in our Center. The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center’s mission is to Transform Lives and Build Community for Natchitoches residents. We welcome you to stop by sometime and learn more about our programming.

      The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program is a 16-week program that serves young people ages 17-24 who are out of work and out of school and want to work. Our center helps our students to gain job readiness skills, get work experience, earn a ServSafe Certification and many other transferable skills that prepare them for entry level positions in food service as well as other industries.

      Funding for the nonprofit organization comes from: our social enterprise business- the Legacy Cafe, individual donors, corporate sponsorships, grants, in-kind donations, and special events.

      • Says the coward who hides his/her/it’s identity, but do tell me what part of my pondering is erroneous.

      • Who’s the imbecile? Why do you say that? Do you personally know the people in the Legacy program?

    • It’s a program funded by grants, individual donations, corporate sponsors, and the Legacy Cafe’ itself. Since this isn’t a public school, it’s doubtful anyone gets free breakfast or lunch. The program receives in- kind donations which probably includes food and whatever supplies and equipment they need. Whatever food the students consume is probably what they cook themselves for the day’s assignment. Didn’t you ever take Home Economics in school?

      And the whole point is to train these young people so they can get a job. Whether or not they dropped out of school, they’ve chosen to try making something out of themselves. Yes, there are jobs out there,and yes, they could enlist in the military. But applying for a job is almost a waste of time when you have no education, no skills, and no experience. That’s what this program is specifically designed for.

      I don’t know when you last tried to enlist, but it’s not just a matter of signing up anymore. Potential enlistees must pass aptitude (for example the ASVAB) and physical tests. Any branch of the service can reject an applicant, and people without a high school diploma or GED don’t usually make it in. The point of testing potential enlistees is to find out if they are suited for service. Some people just aren’t.

      I never met a 17- to 24-year-old who expected a management job without getting an education and experience first. Don’t be so tough on these kids. You and I were just as naive as they were once.

Comments are closed.