Big Brothers Big Sisters America Youth Mentorship Program coming to Natchitoches

The Natchitoches City Council approved an exciting agenda item at its Oct. 25 meeting. Ordinance No. 071 of 2022 approves a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the City and the Louisiana Department of the Treasury and the State of Louisiana providing funding for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program.

Act 170 of 2022 Regular Legislative Session is the appropriation for the expenditure of state funds containing a line item appropriation within the Agency’s budget for the benefit of the City of Natchitoches in the sum of $75,000, which has been allocated for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program. This amount will match at least 50 youth with a carefully screened and trained adult volunteer mentor.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters America of Acadiana will set up its first satellite office in  Natchitoches as part of its youth mentoring program. The club in Acadiana is an affiliate of Bog Brothers Big Sisters America. It will partner with the Boys and Girls Club and other non profits (youth serving organizations) to serve youth in the community, focused on increasing educational success, reducing risky behaviors, increasing a sense of inclusion and belonging, and increasing youth social connections. 

The Acadiana organization has spoken to Natchitoches Parish School District Superintendent Dr. Grant Eloi and hopes to model their setup in Natchitoches after the one they’re currently running in 12 schools in the Lafayette area. Volunteer mentors meet with their littles inside the school system once a week for 1 hour.

State Senator Louie Bernard spoke on behalf of this organization. It wasn’t his idea, but the City asked him to help find funding for the endeavor. 

“The only thing better than a student who sees a light in their teacher is a teacher or mentor that sees a light in every one of these kids,” Bernard shared. “Kids have a wonderful ability to achieve if given the chance. This program helps give kids an opportunity to succeed and I’m happy to be a part of making it happen.”