Council votes to include charter and private schools in Richmond Promise, sets award amount

Council votes to include charter and private schools in Richmond Promise, sets award amount

High school students who live in Richmond and are headed to college next fall — specifically those at West Contra Costa Unified schools or charter and private schools located within the WCCUSD region — are eligible for a slice of the $35 million Richmond Promise scholarship, Richmond City Council voted Tuesday.

The council also voted to set the grant award per student at $1,500 per year toward attending either a community or four-year college or university. Students in community college can continue to receive funding beyond two years only if they continue their education at a four-year school.

The goal is to begin doling out grants to the Class of 2016.

The award amount extends the program eight years, according to data from city staff. Hope was expressed that efforts to raise additional funds will lengthen the program beyond that time period, or possibly increase the per-student contribution.

Tuesday’s votes were cast relatively quietly following months of debate over whether charter or private school students should be eligible for Richmond Promise, and also how much each student should receive. The votes signaled a compromise that ultimately aimed to extend the program for as long as possible while serving the most Richmond residents.

The $35 million Richmond Promise program comes from a $90 million community benefits agreement with Chevron Richmond connected to the upcoming $1 billion modernization of the Richmond Refinery.

Following Tuesday’s decisions, city staff is now tasked with incorporating the directives into a revised Richmond Promise Strategic Action Plan and with signing a letter of agreement with Chevron.

City Council is expected to vote on adopting the plan by year’s end.