Discussions begin on program guaranteeing full college tuition for Richmond students

Councilmember Jael Myrick initially pitched the idea for a college scholarship program and can now claim victory after securing a $35 million commitment from Chevron Richmond.

Discussions have begun on the implementation of Richmond Promise, the much-anticipated program that will guarantee full college tuition for every Richmond teen who graduates from a public high school, Councilmember Jael Myrick said.

The class of 2016 could be the first to benefit from Richmond Promise, as funding for the program is tied to the Chevron Richmond Refinery Modernization Project and cannot be made available until construction begins, Myrick said.

“If there is no legal challenge [that would delay the Modernization Project], the program will become a reality on the ‘obligation date,’ which is when construction on the Modernization Project begins,” Myrick said.

Chevron Richmond pledged to sink $35 million into Richmond Promise as part of a $90 million community benefits agreement the company struck with the city tied to the $1 billion Refinery Modernization Project. School officials hope to leverage the $35 million in order to obtain even more funds for college tuitions.

Last week, the city’s first internal meeting was held to begin to hash out how Richmond Promise will be administered by the city. After the meeting, Myrick took to an email forum to answer questions about the program that were posed by Owen Martin, president of the Richmond Heights Neighborhood Council.

Myrick revealed some of the program’s next steps.

“Soon we will be putting out an RFP (Request for Proposal) or RFQ (Request for Quotation) to find an appropriate nonprofit or foundation to administer the funds,” Myrick said.  “We may be looking to hire a program manager from the city side as well (that has not been determined yet).”

Other important questions Myrick answered about the program:

Will those already in college be included the first year?

The program will not be retroactive for youth who are currently in college.  After it begins it will start with the graduating class of that year (most likely 2016).

Will those who graduate the 10th year get any funding for their freshman year or beyond.

Yes.  We also plan to raise additional funds (and Chevron has committed to supporting that effort) to continue the program beyond 10 years.