California Councilman Inspired by El Dorado Promise

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jun. 10, 2013 12:00 am  

Tom Butt

A California politician who grew up in Fayetteville is lobbying to implement a scholarship program similar to the El Dorado Promise in his San Francisco Bay Area city.

Tom Butt graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1967 before moving away. He now serves on the City Council of Richmond, Calif., where Chevron U.S.A. Inc. saw its refinery burn in August 2012, resulting in thousands of people going to the hospital, according to news reports.

Chevron has said it will pay some sort of compensation to Richmond, but the settlement is still being negotiated, Butt said.

So Butt has suggested that Chevron pay for college tuition annually for the approximately 1,000 students who graduate from high school in Richmond each year. He said he modeled the idea after the El Dorado Promise, the $50 million scholarship program set up by Murphy Oil Corp. to pay college tuition and fees for all El Dorado High School graduates. It was launched in 2007.

“I’ve been fascinated by this El Dorado Promise deal,” Butt said.

He said he’s received tons of support for his idea, but Chevron hasn’t said much about it. When we asked Chevron, we received this cryptic email response:

“Chevron U.S.A. Inc. looks forward to continuing its ongoing discussions with the City of Richmond regarding how Chevron USA and the City can be effective community partners now and in the future,” the company said.

Butt said he’s “guardedly optimistic” that Chevron will “come around” and announce a scholarship program.

 

 

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