Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg has been awarded a $1.4 million Upward Bound grant from the U.S. Department of Education, to assist low-income students and those who might be the first in their families to attend higher education. This is the first Upward Bound grant SIC has received.
Upward Bound is an intensive intervention program that prepares students for higher education through various enrichment courses. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Upward Bound program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor's degree.
The five-year grant will allow SIC to provide on-site college preparation for at-risk students (those who may otherwise not attend college) in the participating schools which volunteered and provided data for the grant application: Carmi-White County, Galatia, Gallatin County, Hardin County and Norris City-Omaha-Enfield. It will enable SIC to hire three full-time employees for the program, and it will fall under the management of SIC Student Services.
Kyla Burford, interim dean of Student Services at SIC, said nearly 50% of high school graduates in SIC's district did not attempt higher education in 2020.
"The Upward Bound project will afford SIC the much-needed opportunity to provide essential resources to high school students so they can succeed academically and subsequently to earn a postsecondary credential," Burford said.
Campus-based Upward Bound programs provide students instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science and foreign language during the school year and the summer. Upward Bound also provides intensive mentoring and support for students as they prepare for college entrance exams and tackle admission applications, financial aid and scholarship forms.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86% of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In fiscal year 2021, more than 70,000 students enrolled in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects in the United States.
In 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act established Upward Bound as a pilot program in response to the War on Poverty. It was the first of seven federal "TRIO" programs to later be authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree may have more difficulty navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires. Upward Bound also bolsters students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had, and helps remove obstacles preventing students from thriving academically.
Maureen Hoyler, president of the nonprofit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington D.C. says systemic inequality and financial hardship discourages students from succeeding in college.
"TRIO programs like Upward Bound ... continue to help students who are low-income and first-generation to earn college degrees," she said. COE is dedicated to furthering college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities nationwide.
Many Upward Bound alumni have gone on to great success, among them Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, ABC News correspondent John Quiñones, and Hall of Fame NBA player Patrick Ewing.