Economic Development

Community Partners

log for Big Red Neighbor recognition for service to LU and Community Partnerships

Big Red Neighbor is Lamar University’s intentional and purposeful community engagement initiative. Encompassing the City of Beaumont, but focused on our nearest neighbors, we strive to serve the community in partnership with leaders and organizations that strongly believe in the potential of our city. We seek to serve the neighborhood we live and work in by rallying cross-campus and city-wide resources that allow all to prosper and flourish as they live, work and play.

The Big Red Neighbor initiative serves as a point of connection, coordination, engagement and innovation, helping to marshal the resources of the university in support of goals and opportunities that are important to our community.

Lamar University serves the community through the Big Red Neighbor initiative by:

  • playing a leadership role in economic development by spurring innovation, supporting business growth and relocation and empowering financial security through education.

  • strengthening local educational institutions to increase early childhood education, literacy rates and college to career opportunities.

  • providing support for community health and food insecurity efforts.

  • cultivating awareness and thought leadership around cultural wealth to celebrate and create access and equity.

  • developing a growing city and community with rich arts, robust entertainment and an energetic city center that attracts and retains talent further strengthening the bond between Greater Beaumont and Lamar University.

  • raising funds, occasionally, on behalf of a project or cause affiliated with the Big Red Neighbor initiative.

Big Red Neighbors

Lamar Institute of Technology
M & D Supply
Market Basket
City of Beaumont
Sutherlands Lumber Co.
DJ Boudain
Education First Federal Credit Union
Ritter Lumber Company
Zummo Co.
Harvest for the Lost Souls
Tim Sudela
The Bellard Family
The Evans Family
The Couch Family
Twila Baker
Southeast Texas Food Bank
Dean Terrebonne
Nathan Hawkins
Community Bank of Texas
The Simpson Family
The Williams Family
Rotary Club of Beaumont
Johnny Brown
James Marquart
Catholic Charities
Kirksey's Sprint Printing
Candye Anderson
Joe Lewis
Brian Hurlburt
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Diane Thibodeaux Drawhorn
Victor Vuong
Corey Kirkland
Tommy and Pat Frank
Susan Conn McCurry and Roger McCurry
SETEX Construction Corporation

Economic Development

Economic DevelopM.E.nt a look at LU Greather South Park commuity and ExxonMobil

Lamar University serves the community through the Big Red Neighbor Initiative by playing a leadership role in economic development. The intiative spurs innovation, supports business growth and relocation and empowers financial security through education. Our emphasis on economic development hinges both on opportunities in the community and our aspiration to become the premier research university

Under the umbrella of economic development, we support the development of a robust innovative environment by investing in technological commercialization opportunities, entrepreneurship resources and other community innovation assets. Through our work with the City of Beaumont and the Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce, we are an advocate and partner in city-wide economic development efforts, supporting small, medium and large business growth. We empower programs and initiatives that help individuals and families in our neighborhood to take a financial step forward in employment and income related challenges. In summary, we:

-develop and support a robust innovative environment and economy.
-support business growth and expansion.
-provide financial literacy opportunities in underserved communities.


Health a look at DepartM.E.nt of Nursing and tribute to LU and community support health related initiatives

Thriving neighborhoods must promote good health habits.  Community wellbeing, prevention, intervention and protection is at the center of the Big Red Neighbor health initiatives.  We work with local neighborhoods, organizations and health care professionals to support mental and physical wellbeing.

We promote opportunities for Lamar University faculty, staff and students to make a positive impact on the health of our community both on and off campus.  These opportunities will include service projects, workshops and forums, research and other engagements to encourage positive health outcomes in our greater community, including:

-host and facilitate various strategic conversations to learn and understand the local health-related needs in Beaumont and at Lamar University.
-support and promote access to healthy food options in our community through partnerships on and off campus with organizations/agencies that are deeply working to abolish food insecurity.
-improve awareness to increase access to local health initiatives.


Education logo of new Office of Community Relations Economic DevelopM.E.nt and Student Access in recognition to LU committeM.E.nt to student access in education

As one of the oldest continuously operating institution of higher education in Texas, Lamar University has been a beacon for learning since it was chartered in 1923. Lamar University and the City of Beaumont work together to support public schools as the centerpiece of Beaumont’s educational system and the pride of our community, preparing new generations of Beaumont citizens to propel our city into a bright future.

The Lamar University Big Red Neighbor Initiative serves as a point of connection, coordination, engagement and innovation, helping to marshal the resources of the university in support of goals and opportunities important to our community.  Our intention is to work effectively with Beaumont ISD and numerous other community partners to enhance Beaumont’s education and establish it as a learning community known for excellent schools. Our goals are to:

-increase the percentage of kindergarten-ready students.
-increase the percentage of third-grade students who meet standards on reading assessments.
-increase the percentage of economically disadvantaged students who complete a workforce certificate or college degree as college and career ready.

Cultural Wealth

cultural wealth

Contributions of ethnic culture are the cornerstones of a community.  Therefore, the Big Red Initiative strives to promote opportunities for people to experience and support the contributions of ethnic cultures building a cultural wealth. This cultural wealth - a rich, honest history – not only documents the past but helps prepare for the future.

We promote opportunities for Lamar University faculty, staff and students to become familiar with our community’s cultural wealth both on and off-campus.  These opportunities include celebrations, service, research and other engagements necessary to strengthen cultural wealth and build and sustain trust. Some of our actions include:

-facilitating and/or supporting conversations around diversity.
-providing opportunities for cultural awareness and celebrating cultural history at Lamar University and throughout greater Beaumont.
-assisting community partners in the facilitation of equity issues by providing leadership, expertise and a voice on issues of race and diversity in all areas of the Big Red Neighbor Initiative, which has an impact on sustainability, safety, infrastructure, community engagement, economic development, education, health, cultural wealth and city growth.

V.I.T.A - Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, eligible taxpayer under the VITA $57,000 income guidelines are welcome to use our services.

Jon Korejwa

Jon Korejwa

Director of Training & Operations, V.I.T.A.
Office of Community Relations, Economic Development, and Student Access
Contact: (409) 880-7920


Public AnnounceM.E.nt for VITA

Year # of Returns Total Refunds
2008 133 $137,389
2009 380 $225,194
2010 565 $608,505
2011 501 $540,346
2012 495* $512,194*
2013 506 $484,042
2014 478 $524,706
2015 419 $450,570
2016 560 $562,205
2017 485 $547,314
2018 555 $568,805
2019 674 $620,686
2020 623 $704,231
2021 738 $919,480
TOTALS 7,112 $7,405,667


People Helping People

VITA Volunteers working on returns  VITA Volunteers working on returns  VITA Volunteers working on returns  VITA Volunteers working on returns  VITA Training is held at Lamar University  VITA Volunteers working on returns  VITA Volunteers working on returns VITA Volunteers working on returnsVITA Volunteers working on returns

V.I.T.A. Locations

Vita Tax Assistance Program

Volunteer and taxpayer stories ...

VITA Volunteer Testimonials

One VITA Site Coordinator had this to say about her VITA site:

“I feel comfortable saying all taxpayers using our services were extremely grateful for the patience, expertise and timeliness of volunteers preparing the tax return. We have many repeat ‘customers’ from year-to-year, and, even during the down month, we are greeted throughout the community with a warm ‘hello’ and ‘see you at tax time.’ This speaks highly for the good work these gifted volunteers perform.”

A VITA volunteer stated this about her volunteer experience:

“VITA helped me acquire more knowledge on my tax benefits. I really love it because you are learning and helping the community at the same time. It’s the best feeling.”

VITA taxpayers share their experience

“This is like an annual gift that provides peace of mind.”

“We were provided extra information on resources to use next year that we were unaware of before our visit.”

“Our preparer was fantastic, very calm and patient. He was willing to explain anything I didn’t understand and went out of his way to make sure I got all the deductions owed to me.”

“VITA is a VITAL Program. Please never discontinue this necessary program.”