RICHMOND (KCBS) – The Richmond City Council has launched an unprecedented program that guarantees that any student who graduates from one of the city’s public high schools will have money for college.
The 10-year program, known as the Richmond Promise, is part of a $90 million community investment from Chevron Corp, part of the company’s recent agreement with the city on the terms of an upgrade to its Richmond oil refinery.
“This will make sure that every single young person in the city of Richmond during the course of this funding is able to attend college,” said Richmond City Councilman Jael Myrick during a news conference at Kennedy High School on Thursday.
Richmond City Councilman Tom Butt said a similar program in Arkansas that started seven years ago has had a positive impact in the El Dorado area.
“90 percent of graduates are now going to college, and that’s compared to 53 percent throughout the rest of Arkansas,” Butt said.
Kennedy High School sophomore Luis Castillo said rising college costs make it difficult for low-income families like his to afford it, which is where Richmond Promise comes in. “This gives us a better future, a better chance of getting into college and succeeding, and getting all of our dream jobs,” Castillo said.
Councilman Myrick did address the fact that the money is tied to the controversial refinery modernization plan. “The project we approved is a project that is going to be good for Richmond, even if the scholarship program was not there,” he said.
$35 million will be coming from Chevron, although officials hope to extend the program beyond its 10 years.