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From left are Sherrie Despino, a member of the Ascension Fund board; grant recipients Amber Petite, Amanda Martinez, Katelynn Lambert and Allison Krouse of Lake Elementary School; Lake Elementary School principal Jeremy Muse; grant recipients Skylar Harrell, Jennifer Gautreau, Britné Edmonston and Ashley Balfantz of Lake Elementary School; and Ascension Fund President Sally Diez.

The Ascension Fund recently awarded 45 grants totaling $50,000 to Ascension Parish educators at 18 schools to support innovative and creative methods of learning.

The nonprofit organization awarded seven school-impact grants of $2,500 each and 38 teacher grants ranging between $500 and $1,000.

The Ascension Fund was established in 1991 as a project of the Rotary Club of Gonzales. The fund provided its first grant in 1992, and since that time has given 1,304 grants representing more than $1.5 million in awards to area public schools and teachers. The Ascension Fund is guided by a board of directors, and the invested funds are overseen by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.

Serving on the board of directors are President Sally Diez, Treasurer Brad Walker, Secretary Lisa Dunigan, Michael Buturla, Holly Daigle, Sherrie Despino, Dale Dody, Malcolm Dugas Jr., Alsie Dunbar, Fritz Englade Sr., Sonny Graugnard, Amy Hathorn-Lambert, Kevin Hardy, Bret Hughes, Juanita Pearley, Cherron Philippe, Timothy Pujol, Paulette Rosamond, Donald Songy, Craig Walling and Buddy Wells.

The 2019-20 grant winners are: 

  • Ascension Head Start: Laurel Luecke, $1,000 from the Helping Dreams Come True - Leadership Ascension 2018 Endowment; and Stacy Allen, $2500 from the Rubicon Endowment
  • Bullion Primary: Brandi Bridges, $1,000 from the Rotary Club of East Ascension in memory of Sgt. Jay Ryan Gauthreaux Endowment; Jennifer Reames, $1,000 from the Ascension Health and Nutrition Alliance Endowment; Teshawn Reed, $1,000 from the Turner Industries Endowment Jennifer Jones, $2,500 from the BASF Corporation Endowment; Jennifer Jones, $1,000 from the Chester Jr. and Penny Diez in memory of Chester Sr. and Mildred Diez Endowment; Rachel Pendarvis, $1,000 from the Whitney Bank Endowment; and Emily Marchand, $1,000 from the Oxy Chemical Endowment
  • Central Primary: Lana Henry, $1,000 from the Buddy & Martha Wells Endowment; and Brandy Morin, $2,500 from the AllStar Ford/Lincoln Endowment
  • Donaldsonville High: Kim Guidry, $500 from the Freeport McMoran Endowment; Tiffinee Rhodus, $500 from the Lion Copolymer Endowment; and Dorothy Thompson, $1,000 from the CF Industries Endowment
  • Duplessis Primary: Angie Altazan, $2,500 from the Arthur G. and Ruth B. Scanlan Memorial Endowment and $1,000 from the Air Products Endowment
  • Dutchtown High: Andrea Hughes, $1,000 from the Claire Carline Memorial Endowment; and Mandy Perret, $1,000 from the Southwest Computer Bureau Endowment
  • Dutchtown Middle: Brooke Todd, $500 from the Randy J. Braud Memorial Endowment; and Aimee Perrodin, $2,500 from the EATELCORP in memory of Mrs. Anona C. Banker Endowment
  • East Ascension High: Marquee DeLaune, $1,000 from the Hughes Insurance Services Endowment
  • G.W. Carver Primary: Shelby Wilkinson, $500 from the Claude & Carolyn Songy Endowment; and Louisa Palmer, $1,000 from the Roy Stern Memorial Endowment
  • Galvez Primary: Rachel McDowell, $1,000 from the BASF Corporation Endowment
  • Lake Elementary: Skylar Harrell, $1,000 from the Philippe Family in memory of Raymond Philippe, Sr., A.S. "Blue" Philippe and David "Wolfie" Philippe Endowment; Jennifer Gautreau, $500 from the Whitney Bank Endowment; Allison Krouse, $1,000 from the Viola Philippe in memory of Ed & Virginia Braud, Jr. Endowment; Amber Petite, $1,000 from the St. Elizabeth Hospital Endowment; Katelynn Lanmert, $500 from the Pujol, Pryor & Irwin Endowment; Britné Edmonston, $500 from the Williams-Olefin Endowment; Ashley Balfantz, $1,000 from the Regions Bank Endowment; and Amanda Martinez, $1,000 from the Ascension ICON Endowment
  • Lakeside Primary: Amy Crain, $1,000 from the Shell Companies Louisiana Endowment; Erin Townsend, $1,000 from the Ronald W. Baron Endowment; and Elise Frederic, $500 from the Capital One Endowment
  • Oak Grove Primary: Lori Clarke, $1,000 from the Bill & Pauline Buxton Memorial Endowment; and Ashley Townsend, $1,000 from the PotashCorp-Geismar Endowment
  • Prairieville Primary: Lanie Gueho, $2,500 from the Shell Companies Louisiana Endowment; and Kelly Naquin, $500 from the Honeywell Inc. Endowment
  • Spanish Lake Primary: Jamie Urban, $500 from the InfiniEdge Software Endowment
  • St. Amant High: Kristen Feigles, $1,000 from the Fritz Englade Sr. Family Endowment; and Elizabeth Corbit, $500 from the Terra Mississippi Nitrogen Endowment
  • St. Amant Primary: Julie Stein, $1,000 from the Rotary Club of Gonzales in memory of its deceased members Endowment; Valerie Belleu, $2,500 from the M. Paul & Janice LeBlanc Memorial Endowment; and Diann Moran, $1,000 from the Neese Industries Endowment.

For more information about the Ascension Fund's grant program or to donate, visit or call (225) 290-3322.