The University’s Upward Bound program was awarded continued funding by the U.S. Department of Education in May. The five-year grant will ensure funding for the program, serving 65 high school students each year, through 2022.
“We are excited and relieved to receive the continued funding,” said Katrina Smeltzer, director of Upward Bound. “There are numerous students in our community who have a strong desire for an education beyond high school. Our high schools have neither the time nor the staff to individually serve these students who truly want a college education. Upward Bound helps those dreams become a reality.”
The University’s Upward Bound program has been consistently funded since 1995. The program works with high school students within White and Woodruff counties to improve academic performance and graduation rates as well as facilitate enrollment and graduation from college. All of the participants must be from low-income families or be potential first-generation college students. Schools aided by the Upward Bound program include Pangburn, White County Central, Bald Knob, Riverview, Augusta and McCrory high schools.
During the academic year, Upward Bound provides after-school weekly tutorial services and advising sessions, monthly Saturday enrichment, career exploration and cultural activities. During the summer, students attend a six-week summer academy, bridge program and summer trip. Students are advised in course selection, prepared for college entrance exams and assisted in completing financial aid materials.
According to Smeltzer, the time and attention given students is what enables their success.
“When a program has a weekly influence on a student four years, results are positive,” Smeltzer said. “Some participants are so shy when entering the program that they can hardly ask a question. By completion of senior year, they are giving speeches to civic clubs, have leadership roles at school, are mentoring younger Upward Bound participants, and managing how they will pay for college — all on their own. They learn to believe in themselves.”