HOUSTON, June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Twenty Houston-area students are one step closer to a college education thanks to financial aid provided by CITGO Petroleum Corporation through the new CITGO STEM Scholarship. In keeping with a long-term commitment from CITGO to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the scholarship supports higher education opportunities for students pursuing degrees in these fields.

Scholarships will be awarded to Houston Independent School District (ISD) seniors on target to graduate in May 2016 who are either enrolled or plan to enroll in a STEM program at a four-year accredited university. "College courses provide the essential education and hands-on experience our students need in order to obtain positions in highly sought-after STEM fields," said Trina Harmon-Wright, college success manager with Houston ISD College Readiness. "The CITGO STEM Scholarship brings students one step closer to preparing for their future and achieving their career goals."

In addition to the CITGO STEM Scholarship, CITGO offers numerous other educational opportunities to assist students and educators interested in math and the sciences. Last year, CITGO brought more than 60 students and teachers from Texas, Illinois and Louisiana aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus with the Ocean Exploration Trust, sharing first-hand deep-sea exploration research and education for them to take back to their classrooms. Additionally, CITGO employees at its three refineries across the country are actively involved in local schools, enhancing students' STEM education through assistance with hands-on experiences including robotics competitions, technology fairs, presentations and career days.

"CITGO strives to promote and foster a strong foundation for students seeking careers in science, technology, engineering and math," CITGO President and CEO Nelson Martinez said. "Through initiatives like the launch of the CITGO STEM Scholarship, we are working to ensure students in Houston and across the country have the resources they need to be successful in their academic and professional endeavors in the sciences."

As part of its strong commitment to the Houston community, CITGO is involved in a wide range of efforts to strengthen education throughout the area. In addition to its support of the CITGO STEM Scholarship, CITGO partners with the Harris County Sheriff's Department to promote attendance in the county's schools through the Kindling Young Minds Program. Every year, CITGO employees participate on back-to-school supply drives helping nearly 200 students in these school districts start the school year with the tools they need to be prepared to learn. In 2015, the company's employee volunteer group, TeamCITGO, dedicated more than 1,600 volunteer hours in the Houston area to support social investment and education programs.

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

SOURCE CITGO Petroleum Corporation