LULAC Council obtains funding from Ford Motor Company Fund's Driving Dreams Grant Program.

The Taft Union High School Oil Technology Academy started the new school year with good food and good news at the annual Kick Off Barbecue.

Hosted by Fred Holmes, with California Resources Corporation cooking the tri-tip, chicken and sausages, this year's event drew about 350 students, their families, oil industry partners and mentors and school officials.
The good news came in the form of a $20,000 grant that will fund a variety of opportunities to enhance the academy's educational experience.

Through the Bakersfield Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the academy has received the grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund's Driving Dreams Grant Program.

Rick Garcia, who works for CRC and is starting his sixth year as an Oil Academy mentor, is president of the Bakersfield LULAC Council and helped get the grant.

He said the TUHS program is getting one of just eight grants awarded.

Two more LULAC and oil industry representatives, Javier Lozano and Lauren Gillespie, talked about the grant to the students and their parents.

"It is unique to the Taft Community," Lozano said

"It's a program designed to curb high school drop out rate. That's the main objective," said Garcia, a member of TUHS Class of 1967.

It also targets better attendance, increasing grade point averages, cutting down on disciplinary problems and encourages students to go on to post secondary education.

Lozano and Gillespie said its going to fund more mentors, speakers, and field trips.

The grant gives the Oil Tech program $10,000 a year for 10 years and can be renewed.

"We hope to keep it going," Garcia said.

The grant wasn't the only good newsfor the Oil Academy.

Ryan McLean of Aera Energy LLC and the president of the West Coast Chapter of the American Association of Drilling Engineers, presented the TUHS chapter of the AADE with a $2,500 donation, and Ryan McDonald of RDM Mechanical donated $6,500 to the academy.