Written by Neva Butkus, Senior Insitutional Giving Manager with City Year Baton Rouge, Public Education Project Chair, and Board Member of Forum 35.

July 29th was a typical Louisiana Saturday. The humidity was high, the rain was pouring, and two amazing organizations were gearing up for a day of service at Merrydale Elementary School. 

Merrydale Elementary has been a long-standing partner of City Year Baton Rouge and this year, thanks to their Senior Impact Manager, Jon Morris, Merrydale was selected by Forum 35 as their 2017-18 Public Education Project Partner. Forum 35 is an organization that engages young professionals in projects to better the Baton Rouge community regarding arts, culture, diversity, and leadership development. Forum 35’s Public Education Project works to identify and partner with one Baton Rouge public school through the duration of a school year. During this time they recruit and organize volunteers to work on beautification projects, service opportunities, and field trip grants. 

This partnership kicked off this past weekend with over thirty Forum 35 and City Year Baton Rouge volunteers dedicating their Saturday to repainting the classrooms and hallways of Merrydale. A special appearance was made by District 5 Councilwoman and former Public Education Project Chair Erika L. Green. With just two weeks until the start of school, students are sure to notice the newly brightened hallways as they make their way to class.

Unfortunately due to the rain, a few of Forum 35’s projects had to be postponed. This fall Forum 35 plans to return and repaint the basketball court, outdoor map of the United States, freshen up some of the gardens, and brighten up the exterior with some signature Merrydale Jaguar “blue and yellow” paint.

Previous recipients of Forum 35’s Public Education Project include Belfair Montessori Magnet School and Villa Del Rey Elementary. As Merrydale begins their partnership with Forum 35, one thing is for certain: When City Year Baton Rouge and Forum 35 work together, anything is possible!

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