Ten years ago, philanthropist and entrepreneur Charles Best joined forces with Chevron on a clever program that has communities across America “fueling” local schools.
The result has been nearly $49 million to boost STEM education opportunities (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in classrooms across the U.S., including in the East Bay.
And the effort isn’t slowing down.
On Friday, Best was joined by Oakland Athletics mascot Stomper and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt in launching the 10th anniversary of the Chevron Fuel Your School program at Grant Elementary in Richmond.
How the program works: Throughout October, Chevron donates $1 every time consumers fill up with 8 or more gallons at participating Chevron of Texaco stations, for up to $575,000 for schools in select East Bay cities. That money then goes toward funding eligible projects and materials in STEM subjects that local teachers request through DonorsChoose.org, an online charity founded by Best.
The program regularly makes its annual launch at a WCCUSD school. Grant Elementary students were clearly happy about the visit on Friday.
“I thought Stomper…was the biggest hit,” Mayor Butt said, “until they brought out the LEGOs.”
The visit marked the first delivery of classroom supplies for the 2019 Fuel Your School season.
Stomper helped teachers open boxes containing teacher-requested materials needed for six STEM-related projects, including Spectacular STEM Projects for Second Grade, Architects of the Future!; Diving Deeper into STEM and Coding Para Todos!
Along with gifts of classroom supplies, Grant Elementary was visited by the Richmond High robotics team, also funded by Chevron, as well as the Chevron Mobile Fab Lab that transports cutting-edge technologies to local schools.
To date, Fuel Your School has funded 30 projects worth over $25,000 at Grant Elementary alone, impacting an estimated 900 students. District-wide, nearly 900 projects have been funded since the program’s inception.
Dale Walsh, vice president for corporate affairs for Chevron Corp., announced during the Grant Elementary launch event that the Fuel Your School program is growing to include a collaboration with financial wellness app Acorns, which is providing up to $500,000 for classroom projects. The A’s contributed an additional $10,000 for the program.
Walsh said learning STEM is particularly fun when hands-on activities are provided. The program, he added, doesn’t only elevate student learning, but also supports teachers who go above and beyond to provide opportunities for engaging instruction. A study published last year by the National Center of Education Statistics revealed that nearly all public school teachers use their own money for school supplies, spending on average nearly $480 per year.
Since 2013, Chevron has invested $480 million into education to help bridge funding gaps, with a focus on promoting STEM subjects that prepare young people for jobs of the future.
That doesn’t include Chevron Richmond’s $35 million investment in the Richmond Promise program, which provides college scholarships and guidance to every graduating high school senior from Richmond and North Richmond.
“We feel both lucky and proud to participate in the establishment of programs that are truly moving the needle on increasing educational opportunities at schools in our community,” said Lily Rahnema, community engagement manager for Chevron Richmond. “Chevron is very committed to seeing students succeed into the next generation of leaders in this city and our country. So forget to fuel up at Chevron gas stations this month, so we can provide even more support for youth and their teachers.”