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After-school programs that were forced to close or reduce services at three Richmond elementaries in early March are serving hundreds of students once again thanks to donations from businesses and a nonprofit organization.

The Greenbrae-based Irene S. Scully Family Foundation, Chevron Richmond Refinery and Kaiser Permanente collectively have ponied up $126,000 to keep after-school programs open at Nystrom and Lincoln elementaries through the end of the school year and prevent reduction of the program at Coronado Elementary.

The programs closed or reduced offerings March 6 after West Contra Costa school district officials discovered that after-school grant funding ran dry a year earlier than thought. The five-year federal grant was awarded in May 2004, and the district believed the funding kicked in with the 2004-05 school year. But the state, which administers the federal funds, considered the grant retroactive to 2003-04.

The Scully Family Foundation gave $73,000 to the school district, while Chevron contributed $37,500. Kaiser Permanente pitched in $15,500.

"It is fantastic news," said Liz Torio, the district's director of academic intervention and after-school programs. "Thanks to the collaboration between these community partners, we were able to restore the programs and begin again on the 16th of March."


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Almost 100 students participate in the after-school program at Lincoln, while 130 children are involved at Nystrom. Coronado serves 155 students. Offerings include tutoring, enrichment activities, sports and snacks. Parents and students applaud the programs because they offer constructive activities and homework help and keep kids off the streets. News of the closures upset many parents, and they scrambled to find alternative programs for their children.

After-school programs at Bayview and Riverside elementaries in San Pablo also were scheduled to close, but the San Pablo City Council stepped in to fund the programs at the last minute in March. Torio said Richmond City Councilman Jeff Ritterman heard about the plight of Richmond schools and was instrumental in the partnership.

"He encouraged Kaiser and Chevron to step up to the plate, which they did," Torio said. "So we owe great thanks to Ritterman. He was the catalyst."

Torio said the money will keep the programs going through the end of the school year. The district expects to be able to cover after-school costs at all the schools next year through site and grant funding.

Mike Coyle, general manager of the Chevron refinery, said the donation was a no-brainer.

"Chevron is proud to support the after-school programs in West Contra Costa County," Coyle said. "This successful partnership demonstrates the power of community collaboration and ensures that Richmond and San Pablo youth receive the benefit of a safe and enriching after-school environment."

Reach Kimberly S. Wetzel at 510-262-2798 or kwetzel@bayareanewsgroup.com.