Drax sponsors ‘Pen Friends’ program to improve children’s reading and writing skills

Renewable energy company Drax has partnered with United Way of Northeast Louisiana to introduce the ‘Pen Friends’ program to elementary schools in Morehouse Parish as part of the company’s commitment to supporting education and skills development.

Renewable energy company Drax has partnered with United Way of Northeast Louisiana to introduce the ‘Pen Friends’ program to elementary schools in Morehouse Parish as part of the company’s commitment to supporting education and skills development.

The Pen Friends program is part of United Way’s ‘READ.LEARN.SUCCEED.’ initiative which aims to improve children’s literacy skills and increase social mobility. The program was introduced this school year at Delta and Morehouse Elementary Schools and offers second and third grade students the opportunity to exchange letters with volunteers as a way to practice their reading and writing.

Each month, participating students receive a letter and a packet filled with books, activities, and other educational tools to aid their learning.

United Way Community Impact Initiatives Director Michelle Saucer said: “The goal of our ‘READ.LEARN.SUCCEED.’ initiative is to practice and sharpen reading and writing skills and build positive connections with our second and third graders. We appreciate Drax’s commitment to helping United Way ensure the success of our children and youth.”

Process Engineer at Drax’s Morehouse pellet plant and Pen Friends volunteer JD Sampson said: “I think this is a great opportunity to improve the education of local young people. I have thoroughly enjoyed corresponding with my Pen Friend and hopefully have encouraged them to engage with reading and writing.”

The program was initially developed by United Way in 2013 to tackle the issue of children falling behind their expected reading grade level. Drax has extended the program to Morehouse Parish, home of one of its pellet plants, as part of the company’s focus on improving education in local communities.

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, over a quarter of students who struggle with literacy in the third grade do not finish high school.

Drax HR administrator Tammy Jones, who also volunteered to be a Pen Friend, said: “I’m pleased to be able to contribute to a positive initiative like this in our community. It’s so important that we support the education of our future generations, and I hope Pen Friends will provide students with constructive mentorship to support their learning.”

Drax is committed to supporting the communities local to its operations through a variety of measures that include sponsoring educational programs and providing support in times of crisis, including during the Covid-19 pandemic and natural disasters such as Hurricane Ida.

Photo caption: Second grade students at Delta Elementary School receiving their Pen Friends packets


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Editor’s Notes

Headquartered in Monroe, LA, with operations in the Southeastern U.S., Drax is committed to supporting the communities in which it operates by promoting sustainable forestry and investing in local economic development. It is part of British energy company Drax Group.

Drax produces sustainable compressed wood pellets, used by Drax Power Station in England to generate renewable electricity for millions of UK homes and businesses.

Around two thirds of the sustainable biomass Drax uses each year comes from the US, where Drax owns and operates four pellet plants producing compressed wood pellets sourced from sustainably managed working forests in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

The plants also deliver economic growth and jobs in the US south.

Drax works within a community engagement framework that has four primary themes:

  • Education – STEM and literacy
  • Underserved/underprivileged communities and children
  • Environmental stewardship
  • Economic Development

About Drax

Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) technology.

Its 3,400 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties. For more information visit www.drax.com

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.

The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4Mt of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.

Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 13 operational pellet plants with nameplate capacity of c.4Mt, plus a further two plants currently commissioning and other developments/expansions which will increase this to c.5Mt once complete.

Drax is targeting 8Mt of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3Mt of new biomass pellet production capacity. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.

Drax’s pellet mills supply around 30% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.


Drax is the largest supplier of renewable electricity to UK businesses, supplying 100% renewable electricity as standard to more than 370,000 sites through Drax and Opus Energy.

It offers a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.

To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com