Apr 15, 2015
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A straight-A student living with her disabled mom and a young man working to support his family while trying to become an immigration attorney are among the dozens of high-quality applicants in this year’s Richmond Youth Scholars Program, which funds academic scholarships and is dire need of additional donations.

This month, Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus penned a community letter seeking partners to fund the Richmond Police Activities League (RPAL)’s annual scholarship program for youth.

This year, students with incredible potential will be turned away due to a shortage of program funds to pay for transportation to schools, textbooks, and tuition assistance.

“Last week, we spent the morning sorting through 65 applications, of which the collaborative partners will probably only be able to fund 10-12,” said Duane Chapman of the Richmond Police Department’s Youth Services Division.

For eight years, the RPAL program has partnered with groups, organizations and businesses — including Chevron, Mechanics Bank, the George Miller Youth Fund and West Contra Costa Public Education Fund — to fund scholarships for deserving, and financially struggling, youth.

“We will be turning away some amazing students due to the amount of revenue provided,” Chapman said. “Your gift could make a big difference to these students. Any amount would be accepted, however, the lowest amount for full scholarships we award are between $250 -$500.”

The list of high-quality applicants include a young woman with many challenges who wants to be a doctor and carries a 4.1 GPA while volunteering in the city. Another young woman’s family ridicules her for wanting an education, but went ahead and enrolled in advanced placement courses and is majoring in biology.

Yet another young man volunteers with RPAL and wants to be a police officer.

Last year, more than 100 students applied for the scholarships, but many were turned away due to scarce resources, Magnus said.

“This is another challenging year,” he added. “Even a small(tax deductible) gift will help us provide more assistance to young people who need it.”

RPAL conducts a competitive, standardized application process to assure the most deserving Richmond young scholars are selected, Magnus said.

On April 30, the selection process will culminate with an award ceremony at LaVonya Dejean Middle School.

Anyone interested in supporting the Richmond Young Scholars Program should contact Chapman at (510) 620-6500, extension 4939, and leave a message.

Checks are payable to the Richmond PAL Young Scholars Program.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.