Parents Call for Broad Inclusion in Richmond Promise at Workshop

Sean Pyles


Dozens of charter school proponents turned out to a workshop at the Richmond Auditorium Monday evening to claim their piece of the Richmond Promise, a 10-year program to provide $35 million in scholarships for high school graduates in Richmond.

“I have a feeling there may be one or two people here to talk about the issue of charter schools,” joked Richmond Vice Mayor Jael Myrick before the packed room. Myrick helped spearhead the program with city staff.

As the draft of the Richmond Promise program stands right now only students from traditional West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) schools are eligible for these scholarship funds. Local charter schools are also public schools, but they were not included for eligibility in the draft of the program. 

Myrick was quick to emphasize that the current proposal is a draft, and that the meetings like the one held on Monday will be fundamental to the program’s development.

“We need to figure out how we can make [the Promise] workable financially for charter schools, without impacting the rest of the schools,” Myrick said.

Parents and students in attendance were more concerned with the guarantee of their share of the scholarship than the financial details of the program.

“Everyone here is breathing the same air,” said one mother. “Whatever school you are going to, this Richmond Promise is meant for everyone going to school in Richmond. Otherwise, it’s not a promise; it’s part of a promise.”

Mindy Pines, a local community member, disagreed with this notion. “If there were unlimited funds, then I think all Richmond students should be eligible,” Pines said. “However, there are not infinite funds. I like the idea of a ranking system to give public school students first crack at it, because charter school students are already creamed.”

Many in the audience retorted at Pines’ last statement, and several students at local charter schools attested that they would not have the means to go to college without funds from the program.  

The $35 million Richmond Promise program is part of a $90 million community benefits agreement with Chevron as part of the upcoming modernization project at its Richmond refinery.  The program is scheduled to begin with the graduating class of 2016.

Monday’s workshop gave community members a chance to tell city staff their priorities in the Promise program before City Council takes up the issue in July.  Another meeting is scheduled for June 18th at DeJean Middle School, 3400 Macdonald Ave, between 6 - 8 pm.


Here is the link to the City’s Richmond Promise web page

The Draft Strategic Plan can be found here

Here are four links to home videos of the meeting:


Photo courtesy CBS

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  • Don Gosney
    commented 2015-06-10 13:28:33 -0700
    Councilmembers Pimplé and Bates have placed the following on the City Council agenda for June 16: 1. Authorize city council to appoint an ad hoc committee and its members: The Richmond Promise Committee. 2. The Richmond Promise is a scholarship program funded with a $35 million investment from Chevron as a result of the Chevron Environmental Investment Agreement approved by the Council on July 29, 2014. 3. The task of the Richmond Promise Committee is to review the previously drafted proposal and comments from the community workshop meetings held on June 8 and 18 and provide their recommendations for a course of action to the full Council. 4. The goal of this proposed ad hoc committee is to bring into the discussion the needs and desires of the community so the final process and outcome can be as transparent as possible. 5. The committee shall consist of a minimum of 12 members with a maximum of 15. Each council member shall have one uncontested appointment with the remaining members to be at large with their appointments approved by a vote by the full Council. Included in the at large appointments shall be at least one member each representing the WCCUSD, Contra Costa Community College, private schools and a charter school. At the discretion of the full council, a high school student may also be one of the at large appointees. The remaining at large appointees should have experience in the educational field or leaders of our youth-based organizations serving Richmond children to provide diversity and additional expertise to the committee. 6. This committee will allow each council member and the public at large an opportunity to provide their input and ideas integrated into the final draft of the scholarship program. In addition, this committee will represent a broader base with more inclusion and transparency from the community. 7. Finally, this committee in no way shall replace the existing committee appointed by the mayor and vice mayor but at their collective discretion may work in harmony with each other and staff for the betterment of the Richmond Promise and the families that will benefit from the program.
  • Don Gosney
    commented 2015-06-09 18:19:38 -0700
    Most of those that came last night came wanting to tell their story about why they put their children in charter schools. This workshop wasn’t a workshop to argue whether charter schools should be allowed. Those that supported charters, though, wanted to be sure that the City staffers heard them when they demanded that charter school students as well as private school students (Salesians) should not be excluded from this program.

    There was a fair amount of grumbling from people who wanted to know why some members of the Council had been meeting in secret to put together the plan using their own vision instead of coming to the people first. Even some members of the Council wanted to know why this was being done in secret without telling other members of the Council what they were doing.

    Very little was presented about the specifics of the proposed plan but for those that saw the slide show they seemed concerned that unless a student spends all 13 years attending schools in the District, the plan would use a sliding scale to decrease the scholarship amount. Miss kindergarten in the WCCUSD and lose 5%. Transfer into the District as a 9th grader and lose 35%. Transfer in as a 10th grader and you’re ineligible.

    There were also rumblings about the proposal to hire an executive administrator and others that would cost as much as 50-60 scholarships per year.

    Others were concerned that the amounts were so small that all this would really do would be teasing the kids with the idea of attending college. With the UC’s going for more than $34,000 per year and highly selective universities going for about $69,000 per year, $4,000 per year may not be much of a help. It’s like buying someone a brand new car with only three wheels. They’re not going to go very far.

    There’s a lot more to be hashed out before this comes before the Council for their approval. Sadly, since this was first offered it’s been a political tool used by several members of the Council to make themselves look good with their core constituency.
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