New college funding program announced in Richmond

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City leaders have announced a program that guarantees every young person in Richmond who graduates high school will have money for college.

Richmond leaders unveiled a new program on Thursday. It's designed to overcome perhaps the greatest barrier to inner city kids taking their education to the next level.

For many high school students in Richmond, getting the grades is one thing. And being able to pay for college is quite another.

But now, city and school leaders plan to take full advantage of a $35 million grant from Chevron to make sure all kids can afford that next step.

"This will make sure that every single young person in the city of Richmond during the course of this funding will be able to attend college if they want to, if they figure out how to get in, we will make sure the money is available," said Richmond City Councilmember Jael Myrick.

The money comes as part of Chevron's Community Investment Agreement with Richmond as part of its refinery modernization.

At Kennedy High School, for example, about two-thirds of students graduate, but many do not go on to college because they simply can't afford it.

"These scholarships will help a lot of students and help me a lot because my family may not have the best job, but will help me a lot by the scholarship," said student Precious Haynes.

"What happens with our kids is they don't see options for themselves," said West Contra Costa School Board Member Madeline Kronenberg. "They see all the barriers. They can start to believe it, the community can believe it, the faculty can believe it."

The exact criteria for distributing the funds hasn't been worked out. But the hope is to combine it with other sources, scholarship and financial aid programs to ensure a fully paid path to college for all Richmond kids.
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