Barbers, Boys, and Books Update #1

Barbers, Boys, and Books Update #1

Dear Community,

Thank you for your support of the 100 Black Men of Greater Lafayette newest program; Barbers Boys, and Books: Staying Sharp for Literacy. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to the 24hr Citizen Project for providing us the opportunity to pitch the idea of placing mini-libraries in local barbershops. We are extremely grateful to the backers for their generosity in funding the initiative to increase literacy in the community.

Reading is paramount to the educational success of our kids. For students experiencing poverty, reading levels are stunningly low. Study shows that theirs a correlation between reading level and income. Higher income is linked to higher literacy. We aim to increase the literacy rate by placing a mini library in barbershops throughout the north side of Lafayette. The libraries will include age-appropriate books for elementary and middle school age kids.

We’re excited to begin installing the mini-library within the next couple of months in 15 barbershops located on the north side of Lafayette. It’s imperative that we encourage reading using various opportunities. The barbershop is a wonderful place to do so as many kids spend at least an hour waiting to get their hair cut. The barbers are equally as excited as we are to make a positive impact on the lives of these young kids. Again, thank everyone who made this possible.

Stay Sharp for Literacy!

Sensory Grooves Update #1

Sensory Grooves Update #1

Dear Groovy Community,

Thank you are two of the most simplistic words that are written in this moment filled with such sincere gratitude. Team Sensory Grooves is beyond grateful to you for opening doors and entrusting us to showcase the need for acceptance and inclusion in the Autism Spectrum Disorder and Special Education Needs community; specifically for participants 14-18 years of age. Through the generosity and dedication from our community, the Backer Team, 24 Hour Citizen Project team and Board of Directors, and all those who voted and shared the message of Team Sensory Grooves to be funded for Acadiana’s first sensory-friendly environment, silent disco prom. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to dedicate and to celebrate an evening specifically to those with autism and other sensory challenges.

Team Sensory Grooves is a team dedicated to making the dream of students from Education Destination (a specialty school in Lafayette for students with autism and various learning disabilities) that wanted to be able to attend a prom that is designed specifically for them and their peers in the special needs community of Acadiana. A special night, a special PROM, that is specifically their own. A night, a place, that even for just a few hours they do not have to mask or perform to the social norms of society. Not have to worry of being judged or taunted by those that do not understand who they truly are and the daily challenges they will forever face.

Team Sensory Grooves is composed of educators, parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, an Education Destination alumnus member from the Class of 2022, and other community leaders that have a passion to foster a community of acceptance and inclusion beginning with creating Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom. A night dedicated to the stars of a unique and misunderstood community to become royalty and shine in a friendly and safe environment.

This amazing journey began on the night of November 11, 2023 during the 24 Hour Citizen Project. The Backers Team believed, supported, and funded the dream of Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom. They heard the pitch and chose to entrust us to fulfill the need to make a difference in the lives of an overlooked community. The Backers Team chose Team Sensory Grooves to provide an inclusive prom to provide a safe and friendly environment for our autism and special education needs community to feel accepted, understood, and celebrated.

I am here to share that becoming funded brought about a lot of responsibilities and takes a dedicated team to make a night like Sensory Grooves happen. We are making positive steps forward to meet our goal. We knew that this prom had to happen in April of 2024 as this is Autism Acceptance month in addition to the kick- off of prom season. With this date in mind we also knew that our timeline would be tight. Entering into December we are already feeling the squeeze and it just spurs the excitement of this project that much more. We set out to immediately find a venue that would be open to such a short time frame in addition to ensuring it is an inclusive venue for our participants. After only making a few phone calls we found that there are plenty of event venues that are in our Acadiana area although not many were receptive to our budget and also the short time frame. Believing in the power of yet, we persisted and continued to call and found the perfect venue to host the inaugural evening; Wonderland Performing Arts in Lafayette. We spoke to Mrs. Allison who quickly became part of Team Sensory Grooves as she was so excited to offer the theater as the canvas to create Sensory Grooves: Silent Disco Prom where royalty will shine on April 27, 2024.

Once we had the venue and date booked it was on to search for a company to provide the wireless headphones that make a silent disco. Thanks to one of the experts that assisted us during the 24 Hour Citizen Project, DJ Digital of 107.9, we were able to locate a local business Dohm Collective, to customize the experience as unique as each of our participants.

In the upcoming two months our goal is to finalize the brand/logo to begin promotions. We are also in the process of creating short clips to post through social media of why such a need as Sensory Grooves Prom is important directly from those who dreamt it.

We know we have a lot to do in a very short amount of time. However, our team is dedicated and passionate in making this evening magical. We want and know that this is the first year but we are eager to make this an annual event. We look forward to this becoming the conversation for those 14-18 year olds to start planning at the start of the school year. Opening up a night to look forward to; to connect with old friends and make new friends. A night to share their experiences with others in our Acadiana community. Conversations being had with hopes to open minds that might have once been closed to why there is such a huge need to create environments for events specifically tailored to a unique and misunderstood community.

One day we would love to extend past just one night of prom. Our vision is to create other Sensory Grooves events specifically designed in creating a safe and friendly environment promoting acceptance and inclusiveness for the autism and special education needs community.

Acadiana Art Closet Update #1

Acadiana Art Closet Update #1

Dear Community –

Wow, wow, wow – we just keep saying it and I don’t think we’ll stop saying it for a long time. We are so thankful for this experience so far and so looking forward to what is to come. From the very first idea exchange, it has been invigorating to see so many other folks get behind this idea in so many different ways: from high fives and encouragement to suggestions for potential locations and partners, and all the way to providing insight leading us to shift, focus, enhance, and (even more exciting/scary) grow and expand the idea.

Since the Big Event, we have jumped right back into the grind, working to link up with some of the new relationships and begin some concrete plans for the next few months. Here are some of the on-the-books plans we have for the first few months of 2024:
We have already started hitting up Art Walk and hope to be able to brainstorm some fun ways to engage more of the Art Walk crowds in our mission to bring art supplies to those Art Deserts. (Community: have some ideas for us? Message us over @AcadianaArtCloset!)
In January our team will be meeting up with the folks from Abby’s Acre to have a build-bash where we’ll be working together to make our first Art Closets that will be headed out into the community. We have a good deal going with them – they are excited to provide the lumber and manpower to build our little closets in return for our artsy skills on some of their future products.
In January and February, we will be working with our connections in the College of Arts at UL Lafayette, the Lafayette Public Library, and other local businesses to find a space for Art Closet supply donation boxes.
We hope to meet with Dr. Downs over at J. Wallace James in January to chat about the process of inviting the kids to participate in a design contest and to nail down a commitment to installing an Art Closet (if not the first art closet) with the winning design there on school property.
Coordinate with Dr. Josh Edmond to install an Art Closet at the MLK Rec Center near the community pantry.

Beyond these specific plans, our overall timeline looks something like this at the moment:
WINTER: Build first 5 Art Closets and pin down locations based on targeted art deserts of
Acadiana (i.e., North Lafayette, Scott-ish, South-South, Broussard-ish, and Central Lafayette). Build community awareness.
SPRING: Install first 5 Art Closets (and party), stock with starting supply of art supplies, continue
building community awareness
SUMMER: Ramp up community engagement through Patreon support and/or donations
FALL: Plan for Acadiana Art Closet anniversary community celebration

We have some additional hopes and ideas and look forward to sharing those with you as we move forward. We have been realizing the potential and our desire for this project to extend beyond just our team. Seeing the excitement of all of you as you got to know the heart of our idea is beyond our wildest expectations. We would love to invite each of you to join us in ways that highlight your skills and interests, so don’t be a stranger. Let’s make art happen!

Abby’s Acre Update #1

Abby’s Acre Update #1

Dear Community,

From the entire Abby’s Acre organization, we sincerely thank everyone involved in the 24-Hour Citizen’s Project. From the flawless organization and execution of a fantastic event to the other teams inspiring everyone watching, and to the backers, without your generous donations and suggestions, none of this would have been possible. It was the best way for all of us to spend Veteran’s Day this year! We benefitted greatly from our coach and the panel of experts provided the night before our pitch! Although this program has been in the works for several months, this was exactly the push we needed to get it fully online and operational.

In the month since, we have been incredibly busy! We have built each of our designs in CAD and have streamlined our building process so we can build like we farm, with zero waste. Making sure the money awarded is used in the most efficient way possible. We have decided to hand-build every piece of the kit to provide our compatriots with the highest quality product possible. We are expecting to have our first full prototype built before the end of this year and have all the kits built and ready by the end of January!

The plan moving forward is to start reaching out to the veterans in our neighborhoods who we know would benefit from these, as well as work with the local VFW post to find those who we have not yet met. As discussed during our Q&A, we have started our planning process to make these kits available to the public, as well as start offering classes veterans can attend to teach carpentry skills and provide the materials for them to build kits of their very own! Our goal is to offer this by the 2nd quarter of 2024.

Fais Doo Doo Update #1

Fais Doo Doo Update #1

Dear Community,

We are absolutely thrilled to reach out to you with boundless excitement and gratitude for the incredible support we’ve received for our project to bring pet waste stations to Downtown Lafayette! From the start, this project has been fueled by the collective spirit of our community members, and it fills our hearts with joy to see how much we all care about making Downtown Lafayette an even better place for everyone, including our furry friends.

A special and heartfelt thanks go to our incredible donors. Your generosity has played a pivotal role in turning our vision into tangible pet waste stations that will be coming to Downtown Lafayette in the new year. We also want to express our gratitude to the team of rockstars behind the 24 Hour Citizen Project for providing us with the opportunity to turn this idea into reality. Their support and encouragement have been instrumental in navigating this journey, and we are so grateful for the chance to contribute to our community in such a meaningful way.

The pet waste stations are not just functional additions; they are symbols of what we can achieve when we come together. These stations will not only keep our public spaces clean but also serve as a reminder of the vibrant and caring community we are all a part of.

Our next steps will be to meet with LCG representatives in the coming weeks to discuss maintenance and installation plans. Then, we can move forward with ordering all required supplies and have a more accurate timeline for project completion. We’re so appreciative of everyone’s support and are looking forward to kicking things off in the new year. Stay tuned!

Sincerely,
Team Fais Doo Doo
Gabrielle Keaton & Zack Breaux

GPS Project Update #3

GPS Project Update #3

Dear Community, 

We are very excited to report that six (6) Northside High School students will receive a $350 GPS Scholarship to be given directly to their post-secondary school of choice to assist with books and/or fees. 

The GPS team worked closely with Ms. Jessica Grogan’s senior students at Northside High over a period of five months (January to May) to help them prepare for the March ACT exam given at school, assist with completing FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), and complete the application process to their schools of choice. We also conducted a financial literacy workshop with seniors to discuss the true cost of adulting. Students learned about life insurance, rent vs. mortgage, credit management, budgeting daily expenses, and correlated these costs to their earning potential in their careers of choice. 

The following Northside students completed all GPS requirements and have been selected to receive GPS Scholarships. These students were recognized during Senior Awards Night on May 15th: 

Shamiya Morrison – University of Louisiana Lafayette 

Mac’Kinze Williams – Unitech Training Academy 

Amari Williams – Infinity College
Deneyah Celestine – Infinity College 

Bakari Thomas – South Louisiana Community College India Antoine – South Louisiana Community College 

Unitech Training Academy under the leadership of Noah Brandon also awarded FULL Scholarships to Arquetta Celestine and Mac’Kinze Williams for their interest and commitment to continuing their educational journey at Unitech Training Academy. These young ladies were also recognized during Northside High School’s Senior Awards Night. 

Our next steps for GPS Project include walking these students through completing the enrollment process for their schools of choice to ensure they have a smooth transition from high school to post-secondary education. 

Our pitch for the GPS Project focuses primarily on graduating Seniors. Our experience during these few months highlights the dire need to begin walking alongside students much sooner than senior year to ensure they are in the best position to have options and make informed decisions about their future. Ms. Grogan and Mr. Darby, Northside High’s senior counselor have done a wonderful job exposing students to options that are available to them. While working with students, we learned that many simply did not follow through with applications or became stagnant when ran into an obstacle or a question they did not know the answer to. Many students would benefit from developing executive functioning skills and communication skills needed to navigate through some of these processes.

Our goal is to continue working alongside Ms. Grogan and Mr. Darby next school year to offer more hands-on assistance with students and hopefully begin working with 9th -11th grade students as well. 

Thank you Team GPS Project