What we believe & why we want to help
We are a Louisiana Non-Profit Corporation wholly devoted in a privately funded effort to assist students at Louisiana State University who have a demonstrated financial need. Although scholastic achievement is important and an Applicant's grades ARE a consideration insofar as the receipt of a Bengal Group Scholarship is concerned, it is not the ONLY consideration.
We are committed to helping those students on the margins or who "fall through the cracks" insofar as other more traditional forms of Student Aid are concerned. We are particularly drawn to deserving students --committed to LSU, and to Louisiana-- who might not be able to complete their education for financial reasons but for some outside help. We want to provide that help and thereby make a difference.
The Four Philosophies of The Bengal Group
As individuals, we are nothing special. We either attended LSU or are devoted to the University for other reasons. While that love for LSU and our State is real, it is not the paramount issue which binds us together. What binds us together is the fact that we are all friends. Many of us have known each other since before High School and we have traveled life's road together for MANY years now.
When most of us got out of college in the 1970's or 1980's, we noticed that the pull of life and jobs and family made it difficult for us to maintain the close connection we had enjoyed in earlier years, when the press of responsibility was not so acute. How could we prevent the deeply felt ties of friendship from simply eroding and becoming memory? After thinking about it for a period of time, our answer was to form The Bengal Group.
From the very first organizational meeting in 1986, resulting in the ultimate formation of the Group in 1987, ALL of us agreed that this effort would be designed to assist LSU students in financial need. HOWEVER, we all also agreed that this effort would prevent us from drifting apart such that what President Lincoln referred to as the "mystic chords of memory" upon which friendship is based would be ever supported. We knew forever thereafter that ---come what may-- we would all see each other on the 3rd Friday of each month as we attended to the work of the Group. And, that was that. We have never looked back.
So, while we are --none of us-- special as individuals, our bonds of friendship echo within each of us and within our Group in a very special way.
We are not some huge group of people. It does not take an army to make a difference.
Instead, we are less than 2 dozen friends who care about each other and LSU and the State of Louisiana. We would like to tell you how HARD we've worked over the years at advancing the goals of The Bengal Group, but that would be an exaggeration.
The truth is it has been a wonderful pleasure enjoying the camaraderie of close pals - brothers, really - while we extended a helping hand to a parade of magnificent LSU student-applicants and recipients who have served to AMAZE us over the years. The collegiate exploits of our own membership pale in comparison to those of our Bengal Group Scholarship Recipients!
We do not rely upon others to do our job. Early on, we had the choice to simply raise money and dump it into the L.S.U. Alumni Association coffers so that the University might administer those funds along with the other money the University raises from private sources. Or, we could take responsibility for this effort ourselves. ALL of it. We elected to do it ourselves.
Given this decision --a decision none of us regret-- we raise all of the Group's money ourselves and, although a lot of it comes from the Group Members' own pockets, much of it now comes from the charity golf tournament we sponsor. We run the tournament each year. We design and print the scholarship applications. Every year we distribute them to the LSU Student Aid Office.
We also make sure they are disseminated to all of the LSU College Deans so that they can filter down to the students in each LSU College. Once the July 1 deadline for application submission passes, we personally review EACH application. From that respectful review of the Applications received, we personally select Applicants to interview.
Then, we interview them personally. From those interviewees, we have the difficult job of selecting the Recipients -- and it IS a difficult job because the Applicants are all so amazing. Once selected, we invite them to a Banquet each September with their family and confer the scholarship, which is given in varying, discretionary amounts depending upon each student's circumstances.
We keep administrative expenses low so the vast majority of every penny we raise can end up where it belongs: In the pockets of our students.
All of us remember what it was like to struggle while we were in school. We have been fortunate over the years and so we wish simply to Pass it On or Pay It Forward, as the sayings go.
It is really that simple for us and, after more than 30 years in the effort, every one of us would agree that it is among the most important tasks we have ever undertaken.