BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — On Tuesday in Baton Rouge, the University of Louisiana System gathered at the state Capitol to show programs and advocate for more money.

Nine Louisiana universities were well-represented at the Capitol Tuesday. They showed legislators what they have been working on for the past few years and why the state should invest more in their future.

“With this year’s budget surplus we’re encouraged that we can address some of the deferred maintenance that a lot of our college campus has experienced over the last two to three decades,” said Rep. Jack McFarland. “It’s an encouraging time.”

One of those programs highlighted today is the “Call Me Mister” program at Grambling. This program focuses on adding male African-American teachers to the classroom.

“If a Black child has a Black male teacher in age three, four, and five, then they have a 37 percent higher possibility of graduating from high school,” said Dr. George Noflin, director of the program. “We are here to fight the statistics.”

Southeastern Louisiana University is getting master’s students out to community hospitals to explain to young patients what is going on in their bodies.

Another program that was highlighted is from Louisiana Tech University. Their program focuses on giving children with disabilities a summer camp where they can feel special with their nonprofit partner Bed Camps. Louisiana Tech has its students work on the infrastructure and agriculture of the campsite, giving the children new features and designs for the building every year.

“The cool thing about that, for me, those kids who are usually on the sidelines in their regular lives become the majority, they are around kids like them,” said Brad Deal, Louisiana Tech agriculture associate professor. “They make friends, they get to do the regular things that everyone gets to do normally. For them, it happens at this special place, summer camp.”

System leaders are hoping the state will invest some of this year’s surplus dollars into programs like these.