HOUSTON and NEW YORK, Sept. 18, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- CITGO Petroleum Corporation and its 501(c)(3) private foundation, the Simon Bolivar Foundation, announced today that they again have committed up to $1.25 million for social programs in the South Bronx. This year's program, named "Path to Progress," has an increased focus on youth and community development that support education and a career-bound path for youth.

In addition to including grants in the areas of education, environment, healthy living, and arts and culture, for the 2014-2015 academic year, Path to Progress includes two new components, the Academic Achievers and Scholarship programs, that will provide holistic and comprehensive support to youth in their journey through high school and secondary education.

"Education is a core value for CITGO, so we are reinforcing our focus on helping children in the Bronx succeed in school, prepare for college and enter a global workforce," said Simon Bolivar Foundation President Rafael Gomez. "Working with these outstanding local organizations, the Path to Progress initiative is investing in the future of the Bronx through its youth."

The 2014-2015 grant finalists include 14 education programs, eight health programs, seven arts programs, and seven environmental programs. The selected initiatives range from a mobile market that aims to provide the area with fresh, affordable produce to an afterschool program that provides student peer-mediation and professional development for teachers. The full list of this year's recipients can be found at www.simonbolivarfoundation.org.

CITGO created the South Bronx Social Programs and Environmental Initiative in 2007 to promote a brighter future for the South Bronx, where more than 250,000 residents live below the poverty line in one of the poorest Congressional Districts in the United States. Since its inception, CITGO and the Simon Bolivar Foundation have provided more than $7.3 million in grants to South Bronx-based organizations and have benefitted more than 200,000 residents.

Together with community leaders, CITGO and the Simon Bolivar Foundation are committed to improving the lives of the people of the South Bronx as part of the ongoing commitment to supporting the underprivileged and their surrounding environment. On average, the percentage of revenue CITGO invests in social programs has been four times that of many larger, vertically-integrated competing global brands. Every year, in alignment with the social development principles of its ultimate shareholder, Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, CITGO helps ease the burden of many families across the country through social responsibility contributions, including the CITGO-Venezuela Heating Oil Program, which has benefitted 1.8 million people since its inception; the Fueling Good initiative; corporate sponsorship of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (CITGO being the largest corporate sponsor); and many other programs and projects.

The Simon Bolivar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) private foundation solely sponsored by CITGO Petroleum Corporation and receives contributions from CITGO employees and the general public. The Foundation operates in the hope of improving the quality of life for all people, particularly those who suffer from the severe backlash of poverty throughout the Americas. For more information, visit www.simonbolivarfoundation.org.

CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information visit www.CITGO.com.