‘SO MANY POSSIBILITIES’: Syrah Tech donates $150K to Concordia Parish schools

Published 11:32 am Monday, July 17, 2023

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VIDALIA, La. — Syrah Technologies, based in Vidalia, has gifted $150,000 to Concordia Parish School Board to rehabilitate and install vocational-technical schools at each public high school in the parish.

“It’s not just a donation but an investment,” said Emma Hamilton, Syrah’s Environmental and Community Specialist, at Thursday’s board meeting. “We’re a growing company and we’re here to stay.”

Superintendent Toyua Watson-Bachus said Syrah’s investment would allow the school district to fund the building and rehabilitation of vo-tech schools at each high school located in Vidalia, Ferriday and Monterey.

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She said when developing a plan for Syrah’s partnership with Concordia Parish Schools, they visited each of the sites and determined that each of the three high schools could have an accredited program “under budget” without costing the district additional funds.

“I believe this is the start of a beautiful friendship and a long partnership,” said school board member Derrick Carson.

Syrah Technologies is a global company that uses graphite mined in Mozambique to produce active anode material — a product used in electric vehicle batteries — at a factory based in Vidalia.

The company is in the process of building first commercial-scale production facility, with start-up scheduled in the September 2023. Syrah’s goal is to become the first large-scale fully integrated active anode material producer outside of China to supply minerals to the US lithium-ion battery supply chain.

“Syrah Technologies’ investment will be used to update high school buildings with Accredited Training and Education Facility (ATEF) standards and teach National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) core curriculum,” the company announced this week. “These initiatives will contribute to the creation of successful vo-tech opportunities for students and allow them to develop practical skills in high demand industries.

“Syrah Technologies is committed to investing in the future of its community and has recognized the importance of vocational education in nurturing a skilled workforce and driving economic growth.”

The vocational programs will be added as a graduation pathway and provide students with specialized skills training in technical fields found in the local job market, including at Syrah.

“Syrah is dedicated to upholding corporate social responsibility and actively seeks opportunities to contribute to the communities in which it operates, as well as hire local candidates for its roles,” the company said. “This donation represents an integral part of Syrah’s commitment to supporting education, fostering innovation, and cultivating a highly skilled workforce for the future.”

The vocational technical training programs are expected to launch in the upcoming academic year.

“This program will allow students to be introduced to so many possibilities,” Bachus said.

“We are privileged to partner with the School Board to make lasting sustainable improvement in the community,” said Anne Duncan, VP of US Operations at Syrah Group. “Local students will now be able to qualify in safety, construction, and industrial manufacturing in their high schools.

“This donation will allow our schools to improve their functional teaching spaces and broaden their curriculum in vocational training. Sustaining our future labor force by providing a direct pipeline from high school to a Syrah career allows students to stay close to home while gaining valuable skills. [This project is] A great local collaboration for strong communities and strong businesses.”