National program aims to boost postsecondary success for Richmond students

contributed to the expansion of junior colleges
The Student Administration Building at the Contra Costa College campus at 2600 Mission Bell Dr. in San Pablo.

By Kathy Chouteau

The National League of Cities (NLC) has selected the City of Richmond—which is partnering with the Richmond Promise and Contra Costa College—to join its “Community of Practice on Addressing the Basic Needs of Postsecondary Students” initiative. The peer-learning cohort will aim to remove barriers to basic needs that can prevent local students studying at Contra Costa College from successfully completing their postsecondary degrees, certificates, or other credentials required to access careers.

Richmond is one of 13 cities nationwide selected to benefit from the program.

The Richmond Promise launched in 2016 thanks to a $35 million investment by Chevron Richmond. The program provides grants of up to $6,000 and wraparound support for all college-bound seniors from Richmond and North Richmond, with the goal of developing a college-going culture in Richmond. Currently, the Richmond Promise has approximately 1,500 college scholars enrolled at over 100 colleges and universities nationwide. The scholars are supported through scholarship awards, college and career mentorship, coaching, and a variety of wraparound services; the majority are the first in their families to attend college.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has only magnified existing inequities. We know that scholarship support is just one piece of the puzzle for college success and far too many students are one emergency away from having to stop out of college, in need of a personal computer, are struggling with mental health, and are food and housing insecure,” said Jessie Stewart, executive director of the Richmond Promise.

“This is why we are thrilled to join the NLC community of practice to deepen our partnership with the City of Richmond and Contra Costa College, and learn alongside other Cities tackling similar challenges to generate solutions and leverage support to expand access and success for underrepresented students,” Stewart added.

The NLC cohort program—which is supported by the ECMC Foundation—kicked off in September 2020 and runs through September 2021. Additional support will be available through 2022.  

“The education and career success of Richmond’s young people is hugely important for the future of the city,” said Mayor Tom Butt. “We want our young people to go off to college and come back to lead our community and we’ve been laying that groundwork through programs like the Richmond Promise.”

For more info about NLC’s Community of Practice on Addressing the Basic Needs of Postsecondary Students initiative, click here.