For Immediate Release
May 25, 2017
Jessie Stewart, Executive Director, Richmond Promise
510-620-6570 | 269-720-5247 (cell)
Richmond Promise Awards College Scholarships to 440 Scholars
Funds are a part of the $35 million initiative to help ensure Richmond students have access to a quality higher education
Richmond, Calif. (May 25, 2017) – On Thursday night, civic and education leaders across West Contra Costa County gathered to recognize the second class of Richmond Promise scholarship recipients. 440 graduating seniors from 14 high schools across Richmond were honored at a ceremony held at the Richmond Civic Auditorium. Civic and education leaders that turned out to support scholarship recipients included Mayor Tom Butt and members of the Richmond City Council, Superintendent Matthew Duffy and trustees of the West Contra Costa Unified School District, President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh of Contra Costa College, and other higher education leaders from UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Davis, SF State, Diablo Valley College, and Berkeley City College who have committed resources to support Richmond Promise scholars.
The Richmond Promise is providing up to $1,500 per year (up to $6,000 total) to assist eligible residents of Richmond obtain a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate from an accredited four-year university or community college. The financial commitment to the class of 2017 totals over $2.2 million over 4 years, attributed to a 15% increase in awardees from the previous year.
Perhaps even more impressive, is the community commitment, illustrated in the 1000+ people who were in attendance last night. This show of support is a prime example of how the Richmond Promise is much more than a scholarship – it is a community-wide effort to build a college going and graduating culture in Richmond through institutional partnerships and pathways of support. This comprehensive support is best illustrated by two new initiatives that were highlighted at the ceremony: the Contra Costa College First Year Experience Pathway and the Richmond Promise Near Peer Ambassador Program.
Fueled by a $750,000 grant under the California College Promise Innovation Grant Program, the Contra Costa College First Year Experience Pathway provides seamless supports for incoming Richmond Promise students, including a 1- week-long summer math intensive, and advising and counseling courses to help students transition to college. Incoming freshmen will also enroll in career exploration and 4-year university transfer success classes, and develop an educational plan. “Our goal is to build a sense of community for the scholars so that they aren’t lost when they get here,” said Vicki Ferguson, Dean of Student Services at Contra Costa College.
“This new level of support magnifies the impact of the Richmond Promise which is the leader statewide in funding for promise program students,” said Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “We know that a college degree is a key requirement for the jobs of the future. The Promise Innovation Grant will help prepare our young people to compete for those jobs while contributing greatly to a strong college-going culture in our community.”
The Richmond Promise Near Peer Ambassador Program, launched this past year at Kennedy High School with funding from the Flora Family Foundation, trains current college students to have a series of classroom-based near-peer college and career conversations with 9th graders as a strategy to generate college and career awareness early on. Omar Mendoza, a Richmond Promise Near Peer Ambassador who currently attends Contra Costa College, offered words to rising scholars on Thursday: “College is like a mountain: you start at the very bottom and you see the top. As you’re climbing the mountain, it’s not going to be an easy road. You’re going to stumble, and get tired, and it’s okay to take a breather, and as you get higher you have to realize how much you have climbed, and celebrate your successes. The view gets better as you get higher.”
“The goal is to create a cascading network of current college students and recent graduates who can provide a network of support to Richmond Promise scholars,” added Stewart. “We want to do more than just help pay for college, we want to make sure our students succeed once they get there.”
At the end of the night, the message was clear: there is a community of support behind every scholar. The Richmond Promise will be hosting a series of 4 college success workshops that are mandatory for Richmond Promise Scholars. Students can register at: http://www.richmondpromise.org/2017-next-steps/
Additional information about the Richmond Promise is available at www.richmondpromise.org.
About the Richmond Promise
The Richmond Promise is 501(c)3 non-profit formed by the City of Richmond, CA and Chevron Corp. to provide local students with academic and financial support they will need to succeed in college and obtain well-paid employment. The initial $35 million investment in the Richmond Promise is being provided through an Environmental and Community Investment Agreement (ECIA) between the City of Richmond and the Chevron Corporation.
Graduating seniors that live in Richmond and attend an eligible school - public, charter or private - located within the West Contra Costa Unified School District catchment area are eligible for the scholarship. The Richmond Promise is providing $1,500 per year (up to $6,000 total) to assist eligible residents of Richmond obtain a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degree or Career and Technical Education (CTE) certificate from an accredited four-year university or community college. The program will also provide academic, counseling and support services to help prepare students to succeed in college.
The Richmond Promise is part of a growing number of similar College Promise initiatives in communities in California and across the nation such as the Long Beach, Kalamazoo, Michigan and El Dorado, Arkansas, and is setting a national model for the impactful role that public-private investments in education can have as a strategy for long-term community and economic development. Research has found these programs are helping create significant increases in academic performance, high school graduation and college completion rates, while decreasing dropout rates. A key attribute of successful programs is seamless partnerships and pathways with school districts and community colleges.
The Richmond Promise awarded its first round of scholarships to the graduating class of 2016. Currently, 255 Richmond Promise scholars attend a wide variety of schools locally and across the country, including the University of California, California State University and Contra Costa College systems.