A five-year, $1.29 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will allow Upward Bound at UMass Amherst to continue its work with Springfield High School of Commerce students.
Upward Bound is a year-round, college preparatory program for high school students who are from low-income families or who would be the first in their family to enroll in college. Sixty students enroll in Upward Bound each year, with many also participating in a six-week residential summer institute on campus.
“The program allows students to imagine themselves differently,” says director Tyson Rose.
With the goal of increasing the number of students who graduate from high school and then enroll in and graduate from college, Upward Bound provides services including academic counseling, tutoring, standardized test preparation, college visits, career advising and cultural enrichment.
“We come from a social justice framework, so it’s not just about academic possibilities, but social and emotional possibilities, too,” Rose says.
Armed with that knowledge, as well as the academic, leadership and life skills they develop through the program, Rose says students often return to their communities and flourish, becoming valedictorians, salutatorians, award recipients and leaders.
“We hope to help these students to become change agents so they can both navigate and influence these systems for their families, their friends and their communities,” says Rose. “For me, Upward Bound is about opening up the possibility of possibilities.”
Darlene Francis, who attended UMass Upward Bound in 1972-73, credits the program and its leaders with teaching her to balance her schoolwork and personal life.
A Springfield native and the first in her family to attend college, Francis says Upward Bound provided her with the skills and encouragement she needed in order to move away to college.
“What I learned from staff and everyone was ‘you can do this,’” Francis says. “I learned that college was within my reach.”
Upward Bound at UMass Amherst is one of more than 800 programs across the U.S.