March 12, 2021
Taylor Porter, through its Diversity Committee's BUILD program and a partnership with Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS), kicked off a "Take the Lead" mentoring, reading, and leadership program for Glen Oaks Magnet High School in Baton Rouge. Over the next month, the "Take the Lead" program will guide high school students into becoming leaders and mentors through the reading and discussion of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, published by Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and how the literature relates to the world today.
Taylor Porter was represented at the school by Partner and Diversity Committee Chair Barrye Miyagi, and Director of Marketing Tommy Santora, as they interacted with Glen Oaks high school students, Glen Oaks Assistant Principal of Instruction Dionne McCurry, and VIPS Community Partners Director Kaia Simmons.
The agenda for the program includes "Building a Social Justice Playlist" in which Taylor Porter attorneys and staff work with students to build a social justice playlist by sharing songs that align with the societal injustices present in the narrative and still current today. The second session consists of personal letter writing to Frederick Douglass in which Taylor Porter will work with students to write and share letters on the current state of America as it relates to race relations and access to equitable education for students. The final session includes a team debate, engaging Taylor Porter and students in the Emotional intelligence lesson of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiative curriculum.
The Taylor Porter BUILD (Building Unity, Inclusion, & Legal Diversity) Community Outreach Program provides assistance to community organizations and nonprofits. Taylor Porter’s Diversity Committee launched BUILD in 2017 with the goal of promoting unity and inclusion in the legal profession as well as providing positive and rewarding experiences for our community. BUILD contours Taylor Porter’s 109 years of community outreach and volunteer work. Taylor Porter has partnered with organizations such as VIPS, Mentorship Academy, White Hills Elementary, Cristo Rey Baton Rouge Franciscan High School, Dialogue on Race Louisiana, Habitat for Humanity, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Baton Rouge. Taylor Porter’s attorneys and staff are actively involved in more than 100 organizations across Louisiana.
Volunteers In Public Schools was established in 1981 after court-ordered busing left the East Baton Rouge Parish school district deplete of community confidence and public involvement. VIPS’ founders understood that public education is community work and knew that in order for our students to excel, they needed the support and participation from our citizens. VIPS recruits, trains, screens, and places individuals, groups, and business representatives into public schools to assist underperforming students.
Taylor Porter is a community outreach partner with both VIPS and the East Baton Rouge Parish School System, and has participated in several prior projects to assist area Baton Rouge schools. In February, Taylor Porter participated VIPS Partners in Education Roundtable Webinar - "Public Education: Then and Now, Is it Still the Path to Freedom?" The webinar, as part of a celebration of Black History Month and the continuation of the VIPS Partners in Education series, celebrated the achievements of African Americans, discussed the role education plays in the advancement of communities, and reflected on the history that African Americans endured to obtain an education, particularly in East Baton Rouge Parish. Last August, Taylor Porter participated in the "First Day Helpers" program to treat teachers and staff to breakfast at White Hills Elementary School in Baker. VIPS organizes the First Day Helpers program every year to welcome back teachers and school staff. In 2019, Taylor Porter worked with VIPS and White Hills Elementary School for a community outreach project - “Read for Success” - in which the school's fifth graders read five books in the months of September and October, and then visited the law firm for an end of the semester party, and a meet and greet with several of the firm's professionals who discussed their careers, education, and pathway to the workforce.