Executives of Murphy Oil Corporation thrilled their hometown of El Dorado, Arkansas when they announced to students in a packed gymnasium their intention to offer college scholarships to everyone graduating from El Dorado High School over the next 20 years. The $50 million fund will dole out college money for any institution in or out of state equal to the tuition at an Arkansas public university.

“This is a huge day. As of today, El Dorado High School graduates will have an unprecedented opportunity to continue their education,” said Bob Watson, superintendent of El Dorado Public Schools. “For some students, this is life-changing. Those who have worked hard, but would not have been able to attend college because of financial limitations, now have the means to do so.”

The “El Dorado Promise” scholarship program was established and funded by Murphy Oil Corporation, a major supplier of gasoline for pumps at Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs, as a way to better the town, attract new businesses, and create better jobs for returning graduates.

“We are committed to making El Dorado a great place to live and work, and we created the Promise to further invest in El Dorado’s greatest resource: our children,” said Claiborne Deming, President and CEO of Murphy Oil Corporation.

The Promise college grants are available to all students who graduate from El Dorado High School, reside in the district, and have been an El Dorado Public School student since at least the ninth grade.

The scholarship amount is determined by length of attendance in the El Dorado Public School District. For example, graduates who have attended in the district since Kindergarten will receive 100 percent of the scholarship. Students who have attended since freshman year of high school receive 65 percent.

The maximum amount of the Promise scholarship is based on the maximum level tuition payable at an Arkansas public university. In 2006-2007, the highest tuition rate in the state was $3,005 per semester.

The company will put up $5 million a year for 10 years to fund El Dorado’s Promise, which could be offering grants to graduates for up to 20 years. (Photo from El Dorado Promise)

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