Students from several high school districts in the Rend Lake College area will continue to reap the benefits of college prep services from Upward Bound thanks to renewed federal funding.
The RLC Upward Bound program recently was notified by its congressional offices that it has been awarded $262,500 for the first year of an anticipated five-year grant through the Department of Education TRIO programs. The award will financially support the Upward Bound mission of assisting potential first-generation, low-income students in finishing secondary school and enrolling in college.
Upward Bound has successfully prepared students for college since 1999. Of the high school graduates who participated in the RLC Upward Bound program in 2012, all are planning to attend college and 78 percent of those will attend RLC.
“The Upward Bound staff appreciates the opportunity to continue to provide services for students in Franklin, Hamilton and Jefferson counties in preparing for college,” said Leah Stallman, TRIO Programs Director at RLC. “This grant will assist in providing our low-income, potential first-generation college students with the knowledge, support and resources needed for a successful college career.”
Upward Bound provides assistance to low-income high school students whose parents have not obtained a bachelor’s degree. Academic instruction in mathematics, laboratory sciences, composition, literature, and foreign languages is provided during an intensive six-week summer program on the RLC campus. In addition, tutoring, counseling, mentoring, cultural enrichment, and work-study programs are an integral component of the program year-round.
“The Upward Bound program provides a boost to the students who need it most,” said RLC President Terry Wilkerson. “It allows us to prove to them that they can go to college and be successful no matter their background or finances. The grant will allow us to keep providing this assistance and guidance for the next five years. The renewal also is a testament to the dedication and hard work of our Upward Bound staff.”
According to the Council for Opportunity in Education’s website, TRIO is “a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America’s economic and social life.” These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRIO Programs (initially just three programs), the site also states.
RLC’s Upward Bound program works with students at Benton Consolidated, Hamilton County Senior, Mt. Vernon Township, and Zeigler-Royalton high schools.
The help from Upward Bound at RLC goes far beyond filling out college applications, financial aid forms and scholarship applications. Students undergo tutorial sessions twice weekly with Upward Bound staff at the student’s target high school. Once a month, the students attend a “Saturday College” at RLC for career planning, assessment testing and enrichment classes. Field trips are offered which provide cultural, social and educational opportunities.
In the Upward Bound summer program, students take part in a six-week simulation of life as a student at RLC. During the first five weeks, the students take classes in math, English, science, foreign languages and art. In addition, the first week is a residential component in which the students live in housing near the RLC campus. The final week culminates with a trip to reward students for their achievements and good behavior throughout the year.
The program also offers “job shadowing” in which students can earn money while working with a mentor.