Students learn life skills, gain work experience, and earn a daily stipend
The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center, (BDJ Center), a 501 c (3) non-profit operating in west Natchitoches is accepting applications for their next cohort. The Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program is a sixteen-week culinary-focused training initiative for 17-24 year-olds who are out of both work and school. Throughout the course, students learn crucial life skills such as opening a bank account, budgeting, writing a resume, time management, conflict resolution and receive training on how to search and apply to full-time positions. After the first twelve weeks of the program, students embark on a four-week externship with a local business to get real life work experience. Thanks to a grant from International Paper, the BDJ Center is now able to offer full scholarships to some students who do not qualify for federal funds to cover tuition cost, so apply today!
“Before starting the program, life was very hard,” said Cedriana Franklin, a recent graduate of the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program. “It was difficult to find a job without any experience or skills. But now that I have references and training to put on my resume as well as my ServSafe Certification, it has helped me out a lot. The program helped me to really get back on my feet and become myself again.”
According to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, Natchitoches Parish ranks 42nd out of 64 parishes in Louisiana regarding social and economic factors. This includes rates of high school and college graduation, unemployment, poverty, and violent crime, all of which exceed the state and national average. In 2018 the rate of child poverty in Natchitoches was 33%, compared to the Louisiana average of 27% and the national average of 18%. The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center attempts to bring these numbers down and prevent this cycle from continuing through the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program. The BDJ Center believes in the potential of young adults in Natchitoches and it hopes to continue transforming lives and building community for years to come.
Claire Prymus, founder and Board President says, “We are transforming lives and building community one student at a time. If we are able to promote this program through the youth, it will only strengthen this community.”
The BDJ Center is currently accepting applications for their next class which is set to begin on March 1st, 2021. If you or someone you know is interested in applying, please call (318) 460-7460. You can also visit them in person at 400 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Natchitoches, Louisiana.