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Friday, April 23, 2010

Upward Bound Students and Families Celebrate Program's Impact















A celebration of the Hope College Upward Bound Program took place on Saturday, March 13. The event was part of a national commemoration, but the "TRIO Day Celebration" scheduled by Hope College TRIO Upward Bound focussed on local impact: the hundreds of high school students whose lives have been touched by the program across 40-plus years. The celebration began at Graves Hall on the Hope campus, where Upward Bound's offices are housed, and continued to Centennial Park. The event was scheduled as an opportunity for current and past participants and friends of the program to gather, with the walk symbolizing their personal journey to higher education and the program's community focus. Students, their families, alumni and members of the community shared reflections concerning the difference that Upward Bound makes in helping students prepare for college.

Hope College Upward Bound is funded through the TRIO program of the U.S. Department of Education, which supports hundreds of pre-college and college programs nationwide. "It’s been meaningful to hear their commitment to higher education," said Andrea Mireles, who is the student and family advocate with Hope College Upward Bound. "For parents to have had their children here, and to say that they see the difference that the program has made to their child."

Upward Bound, which began in 1968, serves 80 high school students from the Holland, West Ottawa and Fennville school districts during both the school year (afternoons and some weekends) and the summer. The program seeks to generate the skills and motivation necessary for success in education beyond high school from among students from low--ncome and first-generation families who have the potential to pursue a college education but may lack adequate preparation or support. The goal of the program is to increase the academic performance and motivational levels of eligible students so that they may complete secondary schooling and successfully pursue post-secondary educational programs.

Liz Colburn, director of Hope College Upward Bound, estimates that more than 2,000 area students have participated in the program since its inception. Recent high school graduates are currently attending colleges and universities including Hope, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University, Michigan State University, Northern Michigan University and Western Michigan University. Alumni of the program live as nearby as within a few blocks of campus, and as far away as California and Hawaii.

National TRIO Day was established through a 1986 Congressional resolution to focus "attention on the needs of disadvantaged young people and adults aspiring to improve their lives, to the necessary investment if they are to become contributing citizens of the country, and to the talent which will be wasted if that investment is not made." There are more than 2,800 TRIO programs serving nearly 850,000 students at more than 1,200 colleges, universities and community agencies throughout the United States, Caribbean and Pacific Islands, including more than 960 Upward Bound programs.

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