El Dorado Promise: Education Makes A Difference

January 21, 2014

Seven years ago on January 22, 2007, residents of El Dorado, Arkansas learned that a unique initiative called the El Dorado Promise would allow graduates of El Dorado Public Schools the opportunity to earn college degrees tuition-free as a result of a $50 million commitment by Murphy Oil Corporation to El Dorado’s greatest resource – its children. Since its inception, 1,444 students have received Promise scholarship funding.

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When asked why Murphy Oil Corporation decided to fund the El Dorado Promise, Murphy’s Chairman of the Board Claiborne Deming says, “Education is the one thing you can provide people that can permanently change their lives.” According to the latest El Dorado Promise report, released today, studies show that higher education makes a difference in the quality of life and economy of a region. The report illustrates a direct correlation between the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher and the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in the state. Arkansas falls far below average in both respects.

In a recent address, Governor Mike Beebe associated the future health of Arkansas’ economy with the attainment of higher education. Currently, 53% of Arkansans and 71% of Americans are going to college and only one in five Arkansans holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Prior to the 2007 announcement of the Promise, approximately 65% of El Dorado High School graduates enrolled in college. The El Dorado Promise report shows that over 90% of the Promise-eligible high school class of 2013 enrolled in college in the fall of 2013.  Additionally, 91% of all Promise college freshmen are completing at least one year of college. 

The El Dorado Promise eliminates some of the financial barriers that local students face, allowing them to pursue higher education, many as first-generation college students. The El Dorado Promise scholarship reaches beyond the boundaries of economic need and academic ability to pay up to 100% of college tuition and mandatory fees for all students who graduate from El Dorado High School and have been an El Dorado Public School student since at least the ninth grade. 

At the 2013 Academic Signing Day, Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Shane Broadway encouraged students to reinvest or return to El Dorado after they take advantage of the Promise. Broadway told students, “Be proud of this community. You have been given a gift not many in this country have been given. Murphy made a decision to invest in you. Always remember where you came from and find ways to give back.”

El Dorado Promise students can attend any accredited two or four-year college or university in the U. S.  The maximum amount of the Promise scholarship is based on the maximum resident tuition payable at an Arkansas public university. For 2013-2014, the highest tuition rate in the state was $7,595 for a student taking 30 credit hours per year. El Dorado Promise students are currently enrolled in 59 different colleges and universities and have received degrees from 35 colleges and universities throughout the U.S.

For more detailed information on the latest analysis of the El Dorado Promise impact, see the 2013 Impact Report on www.eldoradopromise.com.