Richmond Promise celebrates 419 newest Scholars at Civic Center Plaza

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Richmond Promise celebrates 419 newest Scholars at Civic Center Plaza
Richmond Promise celebrates the graduation of its newest Scholars who represent an emerging college-going and college-success culture in the city. (All photos by Mike Kinney)

By Mike Kinney

The Richmond Promise was on full display in Richmond Civic Center Plaza on Saturday, when the community celebrated 419 new Promise Scholars at an outdoor event that also featured access to college and career resources.

The Richmond Promise works to build a culture of postsecondary success in Richmond through scholarships and supportive services. Launched in 2016 with a $35 million, 10-year investment from Chevron Richmond, the Promise has supported more than 3,000 Richmond students in their higher educational pursuits. Presently, the program is serving more than 1,900 scholars—many of whom originate from low-income backgrounds – who are working toward associate and bachelor degrees and career technical education certifications at 220 colleges and universities nationwide, according to the organization.

Richmond Mayor Tom Butt, who was among the community leaders who helped make the Promise possible in 2014, noted the program’s benefits include “$6,000 in scholarships for every Richmond high school graduate who chooses to go to college,” adding, “Most importantly, the program has many partners that provide assistance, mentoring and encouragement to create a college going culture.”

“The Richmond Promise is important to the future of the City of Richmond and to the future of the world,” the mayor said.

Richmond Promise Scholar Jarshire Dennis, who graduated from UC Merced this year, served as a keynote speaker for this year’s 7th Annual Scholars Ceremony.

“People think the Richmond Promise is about the money, but that is not true,” Dennis said. “Richmond Promise creates a community that helps to support us through our education journey.”

Azriel Jones, a Promise Scholar recipient this year who also served as a keynote speaker Saturday, added, “We have been able to be high achievers from high school and to beat the stereotypes of how society sees us.”

The Promise Scholar Celebration was presented by Kaiser Permanente, Leftside Printing, City National Bank, Levin-Richmond Terminal Corp., Sims Metal and other community partners.