64 Parishes

A Champion in the Senate

Introducing the 2023 Champion of Culture, State Senator Gerald Boudreaux

A Champion in the Senate

Office of Sen. Gerald Boudreaux

When State Senator Gerald Boudreaux (District 24) was asked to write letters of support for a potential Head Start and Early Head Start operator in his community, he did a deep dive into the applying organization. Head Start and Early Head Start, federal programs that provide early childhood education to low-income families, select grantees to provide its services on the local level. In this case, the grantee-hopeful was the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities (LEH).

“I was so impressed with the wealth of knowledge and seeing how they were just so inclusive,” he said, commenting on 64 Parishes, which publishes stories about every corner of Louisiana, and the LEH’s strong support staff, leadership team, and community partners across the state who, as Senator Boudreaux put it, “give and don’t take.”

Inclusivity has long been a key value for Senator Boudreaux. As director of Lafayette’s parks and recreation department, a position he held for over thirty-six years until 2020, he prioritized serving people from all walks of life, all ages, and all abilities. He’s maintained that philosophy during his tenure as state senator, a position he was elected to in 2015 and continues to hold, with access to education and medical care topping his list of concerns. After becoming aware of the LEH’s existing network of partnership organizations, he saw a way to reach outside his district and create education- and humanities-based opportunities for communities across the state.

During the 2022 Regular Legislative Session, Senator Boudreaux helped secure significant state funding for the LEH—the first of its kind in ten years—which the LEH has since regranted or will regrant to dozens of humanities-based cultural organizations in Louisiana. Grant programs made possible by Senator Boudreax’s support include Emergency Planning Grants, which help organizations prepare for or respond to extreme weather events; Louisiana Culture Care Fund Grants, which organizations can put toward their annual operating budgets; and Emergency Recovery Grants, assisting organizations with ongoing disaster recovery from Hurricane Ida.

All told, Senator Boudreaux’s legislative efforts have resulted in more than $700,000 in  available grants for over forty cultural organizations in Louisiana. He has also helped close the achievement gap in Lafayette and Iberia Parishes through his support of Prime Time Head Start, which served nearly four hundred Acadiana preschoolers during the 2021–22 school year. The LEH is pleased to name him the 2023 Champion of Culture in recognition of his commitment to providing high quality humanities-based education to all Louisianans.

Morgan Randall is a writer in New Orleans. You can find her at morandall.com.