Richmond Promise to honor fourth class of Scholars

Richmond Promise to honor fourth class of Scholars
Photo credit: Richmond Promise

Right now across the U.S., over 900 students benefiting from the Richmond Promise program are representing Richmond at 97 colleges and universities.

And more are coming.

This Friday, the four-year-old program providing both college scholarships and guidance in financial aid and college success to all high school graduates from Richmond and North Richmond will hold its annual celebration for hundreds of new Promise “scholars” heading off to college next year. The celebration will take place at Richmond Memorial Auditorium starting at 5 p.m.

The event, themed “Rich Roots, Bright Futures,” will feature a scholar recognition ceremony from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. followed by a Resource Fair with food, music and refreshments from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

During the ceremony, Richmond Promise champions and partners will speak, with the keynote address provided by Mayra Padilla, a Richmond High alum who is now dean of Institutional Effectiveness & Equity at Contra Costa College.

The Richmond Promise provides college scholarship funds of up to $6,000 ($1,500 annually) to graduating seniors from Richmond and North Richmond who attend any public, charter, or private high school in the West Contra Costa School District boundary area. The Promise also provides students with a network of guidance and support in financial aid, academics and college acclimation, with various assistance programs starting from middle school and lasting through to college graduation.

Richmond Promise was established in 2014 by a $35 million investment from Chevron Richmond, which was part of a larger $90 million environmental and community investment agreement with the City of Richmond connected to the Refinery Modernization Project.

The program’s offerings have expanded since 2014 as the program evolves under Executive Director Jessie Stewart.  At Kennedy High, the Promise has become a part of the curriculum for seniors. This semester, classroom time was devoted to helping seniors fill out state and federal financial aid forms, a requirement to receive a Richmond Promise scholarship. This summer, the program is expanding to 20 the number of Summer Associates hired to assist Promise scholars in their transition to college. During four dates in June and July, the Promise will hold Summer Success workshops for the transitioning students to help ensure they’re prepared to acclimate and succeed next fall. That support continues into college, where networks among Promise scholars are providing on-campus support at a growing number of schools.

Excluding this year’s class of scholars, the program has awarded 1,315 scholarships to local students, or $5.4 million since 2016.