Three LC schools will start mentoring programs as a result of Gulf Coast Sequestration donation

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Later this year, Combre-Fondel, Jessie D. Clifton and Ralph F. Wilson elementary schools will institute one-on-one mentoring for first- through fifth-grade students through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Louisiana’s Lunch Buddy program.

On Tuesday, BBBS-SWLA announced they received a $30,000 donation from Gulf Coast Sequestration to bring the mentoring programs to elementary schools in North Lake Charles. Located in Southwest Louisiana, Gulf Coast Sequestration aims to become the leading provider of permanent Geologic CO2 storage in the U.S., according to its website.   

GCS Founder and Executive Chairman W. Gray Stream said in a release the partnership was a “natural fit” because of their shared goal of “improving the world for current and future generations.”

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He holds a special connection with BBBS-SWLA. He was once a “Big” for a boy that was being raised by his grandmother. He said his “Little” was a “super nice and smart kid,” and that his experience was fun, great and easy. He told the American Press that while GCS supports many local philanthropic and good causes, his experience as a big “undoubtedly influenced” their continuous, long-standing commitment to BBBS-SWLA.

“It’s a phenomenal organization thanks to the great people who run it and the wonderful volunteers who give their time.”

This donation will directly support the three schools. The Lunch Buddy program is an on-site mentoring program that helps students with literacy, homework, behavioral skills. The volunteer “Bigs” will visit the schools twice a month during the selected students’ lunch or enrichment hour. They will “function as a positive role model to help students overcome challenges at school, home or with their peers.”

Students in first through fifth grade who are identified as youth in need of mentoring for “literacy, improved behavior and positive relationships” are matched with volunteer mentors selected by BBBS-SWLA.

Gray said he has witnessed the first-hand benefits of programs like this and views mentoring as a way to build a stronger community and develop future leaders.

“Hopefully, this donation will encourage others to offer their time and energy to those who need it most.”

Erin Davison, chief executive officer of BBBS-SWLA said the generosity of GCS will bring focused resources to youth in marginalized communities that have been previously underserved.

“This partnership with GCS means we can strategically place funds and programming where youth mentoring is needed most. We know these kinds of positive connections can improve grades, lower truancy rates and boost self-esteem in our youth and we are so appreciative of GCS’ investment in our community.”

Lake Charles City Councilman Ronnie Harvey, District A, is an educator and the representative of the constituents in North Lake Charles. He expressed his excitement for the partnership and “its potential to propel the youth of our community toward a brighter future.”

He believes the introduction of this programming at the elementary schools will “inspire and empower” the students to fulfill their potential, and will bring long-standing effects to the community.

“By building trusted relationships, we can establish partnerships that will enhance the quality of life in North Lake Charles, providing better opportunities for learning, working, playing and eventually retiring.”

The program will launch at Combre-Fondel, Jessie D. Clifton and Ralph F. Wilson elementary schools later this year.

Those interested in volunteering for the Lunch Buddy program can visit