By Kathy Chouteau
It’s a golden opportunity for local high school students with dreams of college and more. Richmond Promise, a community-wide college success initiative, has kicked off its 2021-2022 scholarship application period, which is open now through March 14, 2021.
Eligible students can receive up to $1,500 annually for up to four years to attend a two- or four-year college and/or pursue a Career Technical Education Certificate at a U.S.-based not-for-profit institution. Students can also petition for an additional two years of extra funding. Throughout the process, from high school through college graduation, the program provides guidance services to participating scholars.
To receive a scholarship, applicants must be residents of the City of Richmond or North Richmond, graduating from public, private or charter high school within the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) boundary, or who have received their GED/high school equivalency this academic year or the year prior and are under age 24.
Richmond Promise launched in 2016 due to a $35 million, 10-year investment by Chevron Richmond. The funds are part of a $90 million community benefits agreement between the City of Richmond and Chevron connected to the $1 billion Refinery Modernization Project. Since its inception, Richmond Promise has awarded 2,918 scholarships to local youth.
According to the program’s 2019-20 Annual Progress Repor,t, 384 Richmond Promise scholarships were awarded in 2016 and 567 were awarded in 2020, representing a 48 percent increase. Overall—from July 2019 through June 2020—the program awarded $2,103,775 in scholarships.
During the 2019-2020 timeframe, students served by Richmond Promise completed financial aid at higher rates than other students in the WCCUSD and statewide. Per the progress report, Kennedy High School financial aid completion was 7 percent higher than the state and 9 percent higher than the school district. Over at DeAnza High School, program participant financial aid completion was 14 percent higher than the state and 16 percent higher than the WCCUSD.
This year was also a landmark year for the program in that it marked the first class of Richmond Promise scholars to graduate from college. Adding to the positive news, this fall, 1,500 Richmond Promise scholars are pursuing their college degrees at 100 different college campuses nationwide.
“While the challenges our students and community have faced this past year are unprecedented, I am proud what our community of scholars have accomplished,” said Richmond Promise Executive Director Jessie Stewart in the progress report.