Courtesy of UCR Today

UC Riverside was awarded $3.1 million in grants by the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Upward Bound Program for the next five years. Established in 2002, Upward Bound provides opportunities for students in nearby communities to succeed in high school and achieve their goals of college admittance. The program is directed towards students who are either going to be first-generation college students and/or come from low income backgrounds. James W. Sandoval, vice chancellor for student affairs, stated, “I know how hard the Upward Bound staff has worked to establish a model program; that effort has paid off with this phenomenal accomplishment that will provide a tremendous benefit to our community,” in an interview with UCR Today.

This year, 1,500 educational institutions across the nation applied for the grants and only 780 were selected. Each school was required to submit a 72-page paper about their plans for the program in the upcoming years. “Competition was really steep so it was really great to be selected,” said Alicia Velazquez, director of the TRIO Programs at UCR, in an interview with the Highlander.

Upward Bound is part of the Federal TRIO Programs that cater specifically to students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. The program is divided into Upward Bound Classic and Upward Bound Oasis; the former works with students from Moreno Valley, Perris and Rubidoux, and the latter works with with students from Banning and Beaumont. Next year, Upward Bound Oasis will also be working with Riverside County’s Norte Vista High School.

“I’m excited. I’m really excited because it’s going to be an opportunity to branch out into Norte Vista and bring more students into the program. We want to help as many students as we possibly can but the federal government is really pushing all of their programs to do a lot more with a lot less,” stated Velazquez. She noted that there will be an increase in the number of students accepted into the program, which begins this September. Enrollment will increase from 66 to 85 in Upward Bound Classic and from 50 to 63 in Upward Bound Oasis. “We really needed to increase our numbers so that way we can reach out to more students,” she said.

Students accepted into Upward Bound continue receiving program services until they graduate from high school. Such services include one-on-one academic advising, tutoring, college campus visits, cultural activities and a six-week summer program held at UCR. Assistance is also provided to parents who are filing financial aid forms. Second-year UC Riverside student Carla Arredondo joined Upward Bound during her sophomore year at Banning High School. “The program provided me with the resources necessary for success. It was really comforting to know that there were always people there to help when I needed guidance,” stated Arredondo in an interview with the Highlander.

Upward Bound counselors also assist students during the college application process by reviewing transcripts and reminding students of important deadlines. UCR student Christopher Hernandez joined Upward Bound as a junior at Beaumont High School. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so all the applications—SATs, FAFSA, college applications—were new to me. I learned every little thing about applying to college from Upward Bound,” stated Hernandez in an interview with UCR Today.