Invest With Us. Invest in Our Children. Invest in Your Future.

As members of the ADF Board of Directors, we are totally committed to advancing early childhood education.  We know that early childhood education has a direct impact on children and their education. It affects your future economic, health, and social well-being as well. Investing in children when they are ages 0-5 encourages them to develop character skills such as self-control, concentration, motivation, and sociability, thus creating good citizens succeeding in school, health, career, and life.

The evidence is clear. Several studies show proven benefits of investing in early childhood development, particularly to “at-risk” children. Renowned expert in the economics of human development, Professor James Heckman, recently published an article combining results from multiple studies showing:

  • $7 return on investment for every $1 invested
  •  Preschool participants more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be held back or arrested
  • 5% increase in male high school graduation rates projected to save Louisiana $164 million in annual criminal justice costs

Geoff Nagle, Ph.D., Director of Tulane University Institute of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, reports that “35.3% of children under age 5 in Louisiana are at risk of entering school already behind.” Even during a budget crisis, investment in early childhood education is proven to be one of the most effective ways to improve the economy. As Heckman claims, “Louisiana can address [problems such as poor health, dropout rates, poverty, and crime] and substantially reduce their cost to taxpayers by investing in developmental opportunities for at-risk children.”

We are giving to this effort both through our time and our resources. Please join us. Your valued donation will enable ADF to continue improving learning outcomes for all our children through programs encouraging parental engagement, teacher training and grants, and “free community education” events featuring state and national experts in early childhood. Today, others join us as well including ExxonMobil, Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge Foundation, Louisiana Public Facilities Authority, Baton Rouge Area Foundation, and Boo Grigsby Foundation. They know that EVERY dollar counts now and leaves a legacy for a stronger Louisiana. You can see the awakening statistics in the enclosed brochure. Just tear off the perforated card at the bottom and mail it to us with your kind donation. Invest with us. Invest in our children. Invest in your future.


Matt Saurage                                                                                 Anna Kathryne Kronenberger

Chairman, ADF Board of Directors                                                  Secretary, ADF Board of Directors

Chairman of the Board, Community Coffee Company                    Counsel, CB&I


Developmental Disabilities Expert to Speak at 2013 Academic Distinction Fund Distinguished Speaker Series on Thursday, November 14

BATON ROUGE – Academic Distinction Fund (ADF) will host a nationally-recognized expert on developmental disabilities in children in Baton Rouge at its upcoming Distinguished Speaker Series. The free community event will feature Dr. Jarrett Barnhill speaking about developmental disabilities in the early learning landscape.

The lecture is open to teachers, parents and grandparents, child care educators, administrators, and others interested in the early development of children.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 14, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4728 Constitution Ave. The lecture title is derived from Dr. Barnhill’s extensive research in the areas of autism, mental disorders and other developmental disorders.

Jarrett Barnhill, MD, DLFAPA, FAACAP, NADD-CC is a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association and Fellow in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Early childhood learning provides the foundation for brain development. Behavior traits, learning disorders, issues with attention and sensory processing, and developmental disabilities like autism unfold during early childhood. This presentation will focus on these factors and how they impact early childhood education. Dr. Barnhill will cover early signs to look for in a child that may be indicative of a developmental disability, including differences in emotional engagement, response to the human face and voice, a child’s gaze, and social “play.”

Dr. Barnhill’s clinical interests include autism, mental disorders in individuals with mental retardation and other developmental disorders, and the neuropsychiatry of traumatic brain injury, metabolic, mood and seizure disorders, Tourette’s and obsessive-compulsive disorders. He serves on the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Committee of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The program is free and open to the public. Check-in is from 4 to 4:30 p.m. and the presentation is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Pre-registration is highly recommended. Please email or call 225.293.3345 to register for the free community education event.


Academic Distinction Fund Hosts Open House to Celebrate Relocation

The executive director of Academic Distinction Fund, Dr. Martis Jones, opens the recognition ceremony with words of welcome.On Thursday, Sept. 26, Academic Distinction Fund proudly opened its doors to showcase the work it does in the East Baton Rouge Parish community and to celebrate its recent relocation to its new address. ADF has been active in East Baton Rouge Parish since 1989, and this relocation marks the beginning of a new chapter in ADF’s work.

Academic Distinction Fund Executive Director Dr. Martis Jones opened the recognition ceremony, and ADF’s board treasurer, Mr. Jeff Martin gave a few remarks to thank the ADF board members, committee members, staff and volunteers for the hard work they do in East Baton Rouge Parish for ADF.

There were several family-friendly activities provided including Baton Rouge Zoo’s Zoomobile and Knock Knock Children’s Museum’s Imagination Playground. Food trucks from Chicken Shack Express, The Kolache Kitchen and 4-Flakes Sno-balls were also present at the event. A lunar rocks exhibit featured rock and sediment samples from the moon in addition to a life-size spacesuit that children could try on.

Children enjoyed the animals brought by the Baton Rouge Zoo's ZooMobile. Pictured here is a corn snake.

 The Open House was sponsored by Community Coffee, Regions, The Fresh Market, Chicken Shack Express, The Kolache Kitchen, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, the Baton Rouge Zoo, Knock Knock Children’s Museum, 4-Flakes Sno Balls, Baton Rouge Astronomical Society, Burger King, Office Planning Group, Coca-Cola, Jason’s Deli, Armstrong Relocation & Companies, Lowe’s, Cake Goddess, Le Roche Bleu Day Spa and Cornerstone Commercial.


Academic Distinction Fund Elects New Board Officers and Recognizes Louisiana Teachers of the Year

At the latest Academic Distinction Fund board meeting, new officers were elected for the upcoming year. Outgoing members were honored as well. 

Pictured from left to right: Matt Saurage (Board Chair), Anna Kathryne Kronenberger (Secretary), Ernie Hughes, Ph. D. (Vice Chair) and Jeffrey Martin (Treasurer).

At the meeting, ADF also recognized the recently selected 2014 Louisiana Teacher of the Year, La’Keisha McKinney, along with last year’s Louisiana Teacher of the Year, Amy Weems, Ed.D.

The Louisiana Teacher of the Year is selected by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and was recently acknowledged along with the Louisiana Principal of the Year at the Cecil J. Picard Educator Excellence Symposium and Celebration hosted by LDOE and Dream Teachers Academic Distinction Fund hopes to further their partnership with Dream Teachers throughout the upcoming year.

Pictured are members of the ADF board and the 2013/2014 Louisiana Teachers of the Year. From left to right: Stanford Ponson, Jamey Firnberg, Matt Saurage, La’Keisha McKinney, Martis Jones, Ph.D., Amy Weems, Ed.D. and Jason El Koubi.



Academic Distinction Fund partners with The Office Planning Group for upcoming relocation

As Academic Distinction Fund grows and expands to a new office late this summer, they are partnering with The Office Planning Group to help furnish their new office. The Office Planning Group has provided complete environments for office workers in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Gulf South areas and all of Louisiana for over 40 years. The Office Planning Group and Academic Distinction Fund share more than an office project; they share the desire to make the world, particularly Louisiana, a better place.

 The team at The Office Planning Group is determined to “seek out ways to make [our clients’] world better. We do this by supporting their offices with design, services, products, people and ideas that will make a difference. We address these challenges because they are, for us, opportunities to make positive change in our world. This is what we promise to deliver.”

With their dedication and support of Academic Distinction Fund, they are contributing to helping students in East Baton Rouge Parish and beyond achieve academic excellence. They surely are making a positive change in our world.

Since 1989, Academic Distinction Fund (ADF) has engaged community leadership and resources to support innovative actions that lead to academic excellence for students in East Baton Rouge Parish public schools. ADF promotes academic achievement for all students, encourages best practices in education, supports teachers in their work and professional growth, and fosters improved teaching and learning in public schools. This mission is achieved through programming focused on early childhood, private sector collaborations, and education advocacy efforts.

Since 1991, ADF has awarded 1740 grants to teachers, totaling more than $2 million. Annually, thousands of students in pre-K and K-12 in East Baton Rouge Parish School System (EBRPSS) benefit directly by ADF investments. As the Baton Rouge area local education fund, ADF advances strong public school education.

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