Chevron awarded grants totaling $1 million to six nonprofits Wednesday morning for programs aimed at helping students and residents in Richmond.
The money came as part of Chevron’s California Partnership Program, which funds organizations centered on improving economic and educational development.
“It is not a donation. It is not philanthropy,” said Heather Kulp, public affairs manager for the Richmond Refinery. “It is an investment.”
The official presentation of the awards took place at the Lovonya DeJean Middle School multi-purpose room.
The six organizations whose programs will benefit from the grants are: Catholic Charities of the East Bay, Contra Costa Economic Partnership New Leaders, Community Housing Development Corporation, New Leaders, Rubicon Programs and the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
Three of the grants focused specifically on helping STEM–science, technology, engineering and math — programs in the West Contra Costa School District. The three remaining grants were awarded to organizations focused on helping low-income residents to reach self-sufficiency.
Nineteen groups applied for grants, eight through the STEM program and 11 for the economic development grants.
One of the beneficiaries was Kareem Weaver, executive director of the New Leaders program in the Bay Area, whose group received $100,000 from Chevron. New Leaders helps to develop educators to become leaders in their school communities, with their students and fellow staff members.
Weaver, who grew up just blocks from the middle school, was also excited about the opportunity to come back to Richmond. He said he hopes to “establish a leadership pipeline” in the district.
Philip Gonsalves, the director of curriculum for the West County Bridge to College program, works with teachers in the area to coach them on new math methods. With the $200,000 his program will be receiving from Chevron, he said he’ll be able to hire one more coach and expand the program to help high school students throughout the school year and summer.
His goal is to “make mathematicians” by showing students new ways to conceptualize math problems. Gonsalves, who has taught college math for 24 years, said the old method of teaching math was to beat students into submission through rote memorization, without understanding the reasoning behind equations.
“We’ve got to teach kids to think mathematically,” Gonsalves said.
Jane Fischberg, the head of Rubicon programs, said the grant will allow her organization to help more than 40 clients receive job training and job placement assistance, and subsidize their pay when they do find employment.
All of which will help her organization help the people in the community who need it most.
“A lot of times people talk about deadbeat dads,“ Fischberg said. “These folks are dead-broke dads. They want to do the right thing but don’t have the resources to do so.”
Kulp said she was hopeful that the work these organizations do will be cause to celebrate in the future.
“My challenge to all of you is give us about eight years,” Kulp said. ”And then we can throw a really big party and say, ‘Our job is about done.’”