RICHMOND -- Chevron Richmond will divide $1 million among six area nonprofit groups focused on economic development and education, Chevron officials announced Wednesday during a ceremony at a local middle school.

The grant funds are disbursed as part of the energy giant's California Partnership Program, an initiative that invests in education and economic development statewide.

Chevron spokeswoman Heather Kulp told about 60 residents and dignitaries at Lovonya DeJean Middle School that Chevron has invested more than $100 million in West Contra Costa County in the past three years, and that the money has strengthened the local economy.

"Our commitment to this community is firm," Kulp said. "We believe our social investment is a strategic investment."

The grants announced Wednesday were all between $100,000 and $200,000. West County Bridge to College and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership each received $200,000 for programs aimed at improving math and science achievement in local students, and Catholic Charities of the East Bay got the same amount for early childhood education efforts aimed at low-income and English as a Second Language students.

The rest of the $1 million was awarded to New Leaders, an emerging leadership academy, and job and entrepreneurship support programs run by Rubicon and the Community Housing Development Corp.

Chevron launched the California Partnership in 2009, and has since helped dozens of nonprofit organizations geared toward economic development and science, technology, engineering and math education.


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Chevron has committed nearly $30 million in giving through the California Partnership since 2009, according to a company news release.

But the surge in strategic investments may be even more acute in and around Richmond, where giving to nonprofits, grants and contracts with local firms have all been up significantly in recent years. Many residents and local leaders believe the refinery fire Aug. 6, which sent thousands to area hospitals, could push Chevron's philanthropic campaigns even higher.

Chevron officials say that since 2009, the company has pumped more than $145 million into Richmond and surrounding communities, millions of it in buying products such as cars and capital equipment and contracting local firms.

"The success of Richmond and the success of Chevron have been tied together for more than 100 years," Kulp said.

CHDC Executive Director Don Gilmore said the $125,000 his Springboard entrepreneur program received will help about 15 people get new business startup money in North Richmond, one of the most economically depressed communities in the state.

"I think that Chevron's community investment efforts are building some momentum," Gilmore said. "But it can't stop, we still have a ways to go."

Contact Robert Rogers at 510-262-2726 or rrogers@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow Twitter.com/roberthrogers.