Radio Free Richmond has solicited the viewpoints of students, teachers, administrators and community activists to give a broad perspective on whether the Richmond City Council should negotiate with Chevron to amend the language in the Community Investment Agreement that created and funds The Richmond Promise scholarship program. Throughout the week RFR will post brief commentaries on this important issue.
Luis Gonzalez, 11th Grade, Making Waves Academy
I have lived over 90% of my life in Richmond. I have seen and experienced events that have changed my life, for the better and for the worse.
By living in Richmond there have been many setbacks that I have faced. For example, gang violence, shootings, robberies, drugs and domestic violence. Those setbacks haven’t just affected me physically, but also affected my educational career and future.
Despite the environment that I have grown up in, there have not been many opportunities to better my life. I am not just the only student that has faced setbacks.
So, in my opinion, only including traditional public schools in the Richmond Promise is completely absurd. We all have the same dreams, which is to graduate from high school and attend college. Students should be included in the Richmond Promise no matter what type of school they attend, because deep down, we are all students that want to better our lives. The benefits that scholarships give to students are incredible. They wouldn’t just help me financially, but by taking away some of the stress that I have with trying to come up with money for my education, it allows me to expand my knowledge by experiencing new things, which would not be possible without the help from scholarships.
Diana Ramirez, 11th Grade, Richmond High School
I believe that the Richmond Promise should be opened to all of the students that attend school or live in the city of Richmond; this includes charter school and private schools. A large number of the students in those schools suffer from the same financial disadvantages that those of us in traditional public schools have.
It would not be fair for everyone in traditional public schools to have this opportunity, but then to deny it to everyone else that, in fact, also needs it.
The Richmond Promise should be catered to the students who have the need for it, not just those who happen to breath the same polluted air. If it was about the polluted air, then Chevron would definitely need to extend the "help" to the whole Bay Area, not just Richmond.
Also, family income certainly needs to play an essential role in this debate because in the end, what matters is equity not equality. Students should get the money if they need it, not just because they happen to live or attend a school in Richmond. That would just be unfair.
Arturo Castaneda, 12th GradeMaking Waves Academy
I am Arturo Castaneda, a Senior Representative at Making Waves Academy. I have been part of the Richmond community for over 15 years of my life, which has shaped the person I am today. Living in the Richmond community has driven me to work hard every single day, getting me to where I am today.
My accomplishments have been carving my path to go to Santa Clara University, my dream college. However, there is a very large obstacle to reach my destination: paying $60,000 for the tuition and all other materials necessary for my life in college. That is a very high price for college, and it makes me worry that I won't be able to reach my dream. My family puts in a lot of effort to earn money, but it is going to be very hard for them to support me financially with college. As the cost for education increases, it demands for more loans, leaving many students in debt for many years.
Knowing that the Richmond Promise exists in my community, I know that it will be a very huge benefit to my family, my friends, and myself. Charter schools, such as Making Waves, should not be excluded from receiving the Richmond Promise Scholarship. Growing up in Richmond has not been easy on my life. I see many students’ dreams of going to college crushed because they are unable to afford it. Recognizing what I am surrounded by makes me worry at times if I am going to be able to make it to college or not.
Sometimes I get scared and think to myself, Am I going to end up like my friends? I do not want to go into debt by taking out so many loans to be able to afford college, because I do not want to live life paying off college. Receiving the scholarship will provide not just extra support for me, but also for my family. The money that I receive from the scholarship will help me lower the percentage of taking out a loan, preventing me from paying interest.
My family will also have fewer worries about affording college because, with the extra support, they won’t have to worry about my dreams being crushed. They will have very big smiles on their faces, because they know that the scholarship creates a very high probability of me being able to afford college. The Richmond Promise Scholarship will make many students very happy, placing smile on their faces. Please include Charter schools into the Promise because we are students who also have a lot of potential to succeed.