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BHP Billiton donates $540,000 to benefit Louisiana preschoolers

Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities or LEH will launch a preschool reading program in seven parishes thanks to a $540,000 grant awarded Monday by energy giant BHP Billiton.

More than 2,500 children and their parents will participate in the PRIME TIME Preschool Program starting in October, according to LEH’s interim president Miranda Restovic.

“We can have a lot of aspiration, but without resources and money we can’t do a whole lot,” Restovic said, following a check presentation in New Orleans. “Donations like these that are in my opinion pretty visionary, are not only good for our image, but they are also good because they’re providing us with three years of revenue to make sure this is getting embedded in communities where it’s needed the most.”

Australia-based BHP Billiton has operations in the Gulf Coast and the Haynesville Shale in northwest Louisiana. Conventional asset president Steve Pastor says BHP Billiton Petroleum wants to invest in places where it does business.

“We actually do a tremendous amount of work looking for the right opportunity to partner with organizations like LEH that make such a huge and positive impact in the communities where we work and live,” Pastor said.

Louisiana preschoolers will attend six weeks of an evening program that includes dinner, story time, and activities that build vocabulary. LEH has led the nationwide PRIME TIME program for nearly 25 years. Restovic says parents learn how to replicate PRIME TIME objectives at home.

“If you can leverage that play time as a parent and make it into a learning time, that’s golden. You don’t have to be a scientist, mathematician, or a Ph.D. in the humanities field to be a good parent in this way,” Restovic said.

The program will be offered at 19 sites in Caddo, Bossier, Red River and DeSoto parishes, along with several parishes in south Louisiana.  More information is at primetimefamily.org.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.
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