When the lick is $50 million, the promise means something.

I joined a big luncheon crowd today for the Lions World Services to the Blind’s annual Vision Award presentation. This year, the honorees were Claiborne Deming, CEO, and Murphy Oil of El Dorado, for its huge commitment to pay for college scholarships for all graduates of El Dorado public schools.

Is the commitment paying off?

Deming reported that school enrollment has increased by 140 this year, the first real gain (not counting a small consolidation) in 20 years. Voters feel good about the city’s direction. They’ve approved a property tax increase to build a new high school and a tax to build an economic development fund. Real estate transactions are solid in a fairlly slack time.


You hear a lot of talk about public-private partnerships on major civic undertakings, but look closely and you typically find the public investment is much larger than the private investment. (The private investment often comes only in return for marketing rights, sky boxes and other tax deductible special privileges.)

The El Dorado Promise program is the highest order of philanthropy. It is true that any good done for a community redounds to the benefit of all in the community, but in equal measure.