The Upward Bound program at Wayne State continues to rise.
Set to enter its 56th consecutive year, the program — which furnishes Detroit students with college enrollment help, career counseling, academic support and community engagement — received yet another boost recently, when WSU was awarded a five-year federal grant worth nearly $4 million to continue its Upward Bound outreach.
The renewal grant will allow the program, which is cost-free for students and operates as part of a broad network of student support initiatives overseen by the university’s Office of Federal TRIO, to continue to serve low-income Detroiters and high school students who would be the first in their family to attend college.
Mark Jackson, Ph.D., who was recently installed as director of the university’s Office of Federal TRIO, described Upward Bound’s impact on participating students as “life-changing.”
“The phrase ‘you don't know what you don't know’ has become a cliche, but it is particularly applicable with regard to first-generation and low-income students,” Jackson said. “Through continued exposure, guidance and encouragement from our college students and professionals, [students] learn so much more about the importance of being successful in school and how it will help them be successful in life.”
Mark Kornbluh, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Wayne State, praised the program for its consistent success.
“TRIO Upward Bound program is a proven model to engage and expose students from historically excluded groups to the benefits of higher education,” Kornbluh said. “As we continue to strengthen our commitment to access, it is important to have programs like Upward Bound to extend into the community school districts — particularly in Detroit.”
Created by the federal Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and launched at Wayne State in 1966, Upward Bound originally was one of three significant support initiatives — Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services are the other two — developed by the federal government to widen access to college for low-income and traditionally underrepresented students. The term “TRIO” was coined to describe the three programs, which operate nationwide at colleges and public and private institutions dedicated to working with disadvantaged youth.
In the decades since, TRIO has expanded its offerings to include the Veterans Educational Opportunity Program, the Educational Opportunity Center, the King-Chavez-Parks College Day Program, the McNair Scholars Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program and the Child Care Means Parents in School Program. At Wayne State, TRIO also offers the Michigan Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (MI GEAR UP), designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
The WSU Upward Bound program is open to students enrolled at any Detroit Community District public high school, although it zeroes in on four target schools: Central Collegiate Academy, Denby High School, East English Village Preparatory Academy and Mumford High School.
Eligible students must meet the criteria established by the U.S. Department of Education, plan to enroll in postsecondary education to pursue an associate or bachelor’s immediately after high school, and have at least a 2.5 GPA and an academic need.
As Jackson noted, entire generations of families in Detroit have participated in WSU's Upward Bound. “This relationship has thrived for so long because schools, parents and students can count on caring and compassionate services,” he said. “Students and staff form meaningful partnerships over the four years and work together to trust each other. Parents and teachers evolve to trust in the care and activities provided by Upward Bound for their high school students.”
Each Upward Bound grant is funded for a five-year period so, at the end of each funding cycle, the program must submit a new proposal and compete with over 1,000 proposals from across the nation. Independent reviewers select the programs that have ambitious goals, yet are realistic in considering the challenges facing the community, educational systems and families.
“Our programs have continued to be funded cycle after cycle because of the proven methods and activities provided and, most importantly, the educational success of the student participants,” Jackson stated.
The 2022 WSU TRIO Upward Bound Summer Residential Program will be the project’s first face-to-face summer experience with the participants since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the summers of 2020 and 2021, Upward Bound created virtual summer programs, allowing the students to take academic courses and complete projects related to robotics and music production; however, the missed opportunity to participate in the residential experience was difficult for everyone,” said Marc Smith, director of TRIO Upward Bound.
For the 2022 Upward Bound Summer Residential Program, students will live at Yousif B. Ghafari Hall for five weeks, from July 5 through August 5, participating in academic and career readiness courses, preparing for postsecondary education and learning to effectively communicate and work together while living with each other week after week.
“Along with the academic and residential focus, the students will have an experience they will remember for years as they matriculate through the cultural centers of Midtown Detroit and participate in many fun events in the downtown area,” Smith added.
Following the five-week residential program, the students will tour colleges and universities in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Jackson said he hopes that the Upward Bound program can continue to serve the Detroit high school community by providing valuable exposure and development to interested students.
“The challenges facing Detroit students have continued to grow over the last few years, and our Upward Bound staff will continue to be innovative and motivational to help students and families meet those challenges,” he said. “I also very much hope to expand the support provided by WSU academic departments and other university offices to further enhance students' educational and career aspirations.”