Ben D. Johnson Educational Center (BDJ Center) received $15,350 in grant funds from International Paper Red River Mill. Funds will be used to support young people ages 17-24 who are out of work and out of school by providing career development, life and leadership skills, and culinary training with support to overcome barriers to employment.

The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program, an offering of the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center, began with the first cohort in April 2019. The work readiness training program provides participants skills to enter and remain in the workforce. Now enrolling the BDJ Center’s third cohort, the 16-week program provides students opportunities to gain their ServSafe Certification, financial literacy knowledge, and hands-on culinary training at the BDJ Center’s Legacy Café. Throughout their education participants develop a job readiness portfolio, gain work experience during their Front of House and Back of House Legacy Café rotations, use fresh, local products from the Ben D. Johnson Garden and earn money while learning.

Claire Prymus, founder and Board Chair of the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center, “We are grateful for the continued support of International Paper Red River Mill”.

Kelly Trumbo, International Paper Red River Mill Communications Coordinator,” At International Paper, we believe our company cannot succeed if our communities do not succeed. We are proud to support the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center’s Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program as they strive to address the community needs in the Natchitoches area.”

Founded by Claire Prymus in honor of her late uncle, the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a commitment to building community and providing access and opportunities for residents in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The mission of Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is to build community in Natchitoches and give access to social and economic success for all of its residents.

The International Paper Foundation is one of the ways International Paper strives to reach its vision to be among the most successful, sustainable and responsible companies in the world. Started in 1952, the foundation annually provides millions in grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to address critical needs in the communities where its employees live and work. Funding priority is given to programs related to its signature causes: education, hunger, health & wellness, disaster relief, and initiatives that improve the planet. For more information, visit

Pictured above are Dallas Russell, Kelly Trumbo, Claire Prymys, JoAnna Cooper, and Raderrius Colbert.