El Dorado, Arkansas, population 18,000, is a small Southern town just north of the Louisiana border. The county seat of Union County, El Dorado, known as ‘The Original Boomtown’ has an interesting history, closely tied to the oil and timber industries. El Dorado was a bustling boomtown in the 1920s and enjoyed continued growth through the 1950s. The area has a very strong historical industrial base but was impacted by globalization and the declining economy in the 1980s, resulting in lost population. However, the city remained strong through economic downturns. It ranks 2nd of the 75 counties in Arkansas in per capita personal income and 29th of 576 counties in surrounding states. El Dorado has a large industrial workforce, and is also home to three NYSE-traded companies.
Murphy has been a strong community supporter throughout its history, focusing primarily on educational endeavors. It’s founder, Charles H. Murphy, Jr., was described as an educator at heart, even more so than a businessman. He believed, “with good education, people are more productive. To educate people is good business.”
Murphy’s Board of Directors continued the belief of the transformative power of education. Enrollment in the district dropped by 10% from 1990 to 2005, and population had been on a steady decline as well, two trends which could be found in all districts in south Arkansas at the time. Murphy, through its philanthropic focus on education, began the Murphy Education Program, an academic incentive program which rewards students in the El Dorado School District for their scores on standardized tests, in 1997.
Unlike traditional forms of financial aid, the El Dorado Promise is a universal program, which means there are no merit or financial need requirements. The only requirement is to graduate from El Dorado High School, after having been enrolled since at least ninth grade.
– Bob Watson, El Dorado Public Schools Superintendent in 2007
– Becky Ward, former EHS Counselor