Meet the new downtown nonprofit aiming to teach local history

The American Millennium Project, a program that aims to educate area residents on their local history and culture, is moving its headquarters from Shreveport to downtown Baton Rouge.

There are two major aspects of the project, which was started in 2000, says founder and CEO Chris Chandler. The first is public tours. All of the project’s tours have seven stops around different areas of a city, he says. 

For example, Baton Rouge will have tours like the Seven Wonders of Baton Rouge that includes the entire parish, the Seven Wonders of Downtown Baton Rouge that stays downtown and the Seven Wonders of LSU, which tours campus. 

The second part of the project is its student outreach. Students at local middle and high schools can become members of the program and get to leave class and go on private tours twice a semester, Chandler says, and students participating in the program at their schools will have meetings and gain leadership and character development through alumni mentors.

The first thing Chandler and his team does when coming to a new city is develop a relationship with local historians, he says, usually college professors who they partner with and use as consultants to plan stops on the tours, like they have done in Baton Rouge. They also work with school district superintendents, introducing them to the project and offering membership to middle and high schools in the district.

The project currently has an agreement with East Baton Rouge Parish Schools, Chandler says, and students at local public and private middle and high schools will have the opportunity to become members in the fall. They are also hoping to have public tours up and running by the end of the month, he says, but that depends on COVID-19 numbers. 

The project made the move, Chandler says, because of its growth across the country. The American Millennium Projects has programs in other cities like Baltimore, Houston, Chicago, Orlando, Los Angeles. It needed its corporate headquarters to be nearer to an airport with international access, he says, like New Orleans. 

Its downtown location will not only be a corporate headquarters, but also a training facility and eventually a bed and breakfast, Chandler says. The project plans to use the Baton Rouge location to train consultants who will take the project’s model and develop it in their own cities. 

Their headquarters will be on 3rd Street, Chandler says, with the space being redeveloped over the coming months.