BP donated $120,000 to the Jackson School of Geosciences’ GeoFORCE program Tuesday, bringing the total amount the oil and gas company has donated to the program to $1 million since 2007.
GeoFORCE is a selective outreach program through the Jackson School that focuses on at-risk high school students in the South Texas and Houston areas. The program is set up for students to apply in the eighth grade, with the goal that GeoFORCE can work with them through all four summers of their high school careers.
From the applicants, around 600 students are accepted and taken on a week-long geological trip all over the United States. During the trip, professors, researchers and other professional geologists help students discover what geology is. Along with geoscience courses, students are encouraged to take on the challenges of math and science courses.
According to Eleanour Snow, associate director of the program, 481 students from GeoFORCE are enrolled in 85 different universities across the nation. Of those students, 97 are currently enrolled at the UT. Through the program, 97 percent of the campers have gone on to college, and 96 percent of those students returned to school the following year.
Four graduates of the GeoFORCE program attended a Tuesday ceremony in which Samuel Moore, director of outreach and diversity for the program, received the donation check from James Dupree, BP chief operating officer of reservoir development and technology.
“BP is always seeking for diversity and helping out in the communities,” Dupree said. “This is a great opportunity to get kids involved and interested in the geosciences and STEM. By reaching out to them, many of them have the opportunity to become first-generation family members to go onto college.”
Former GeoFORCE member Edgar Aguilar said he was thankful for the opportunities GeoFORCE gave him as a student, as the program helped him realize his passion for geoscience.
“A lot of people do not know about the program,” Aguilar said. “But, if more people knew about it, I guarantee more would be interested.”
Having started in 2005, the GeoFORCE program just completed its 10th summer. Dupree said BP’s donation will ensure the program continues to inspire and educate high school students.