College for free? Richmond Promise and WGU partner to make it possible

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College for free? Richmond Promise and WGU partner to make it possible
Richmond Promise Executive Director Christopher Whitmore, left, and Western Governors University Regional Vice President Rick Benbow III sign the partnership between RP and WGU outside of Richmond City Hall (Photo courtesy of Richmond Promise).

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond Promise scholars can receive degrees from Western Governors University (WGU) at little to no cost thanks to a partnership between the local organization and the online university. 

As part of a new memorandum of understanding, recipients of the Richmond Promise college scholarship can apply for a partner scholarship to obtain additional funds to attend WGU, an accredited, nonprofit university based in Utah that offers affordable degrees to students. The cost for WGU degrees are further reduced when combined with other funding sources like Pell Grants.

Richmond Promise’s agreement with WGU marks its first with a fully online institution.

“We look forward to working alongside WGU to provide another affordable higher education option for Richmond Promise Scholars,” Executive Director Christopher Whitmore said.

Richmond Promise provides graduating high school seniors from Richmond and North Richmond with a scholarship of $1,500 per year, for up to four years, to attend a two-year, four-year or career technical education institution. The scholarship can extend to a potential six years depending on a student’s path and petition. The program also provides students with college guidance, including support with the financial aid application process.

WGU’s additional partner scholarship provides students with $1,250 per term, renewable up to four terms. Each term is six months long, during which students can complete as many courses as they’re able, unlike other schools that charge per course or per credit. The university also provides other financial awards, including the B4 Women in Tech program and the Online Access Award.

“We are excited to collaborate in empowering the students of Richmond, fostering academic and professional excellence and nurturing future leaders committed to positive change in their community and beyond,” said Rick Benbow III, regional VP for WGU.

Richmond Promise has supported more than 3,300 young people from Richmond “to and through” higher education since 2016. Currently, more than 1,300 scholars per year pursue their associate and bachelor degrees, and career technical education certifications nationwide supported by Richmond Promise scholarships.

The organization grew from a $35 million, 10-year investment from Chevron Richmond, with the aim of building a culture of postsecondary access and success throughout the city.

Learn more about the Richmond Promise and WGU partnership, in addition to the Community Outreach Scholarship, WGU’s B4 Women in Tech program and the Online Access Award, here.