Wilkes University Awarded $2.2 Million Upward Bound Grant

by Web Services

The funding will provide higher education opportunities to low-income and first-generation college students.

The Upward Bound program at Wilkes University received a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help more low income and first generation students prepare for and enroll in college. The grant is one of the largest in the program’s history and will ensure the program continues its mission for the next five years at Wilkes.

The Upward Bound program currently serves 68 students from northeast Pennsylvania. An additional 38 students graduated from the program in May. Wilkes has hosted the program since 1967, making it the longest running program in the state.

Upward Bound is a national intensive intervention program that prepares students for higher education through various enrichment courses. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Upward Bound program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree. 

The backbone of Upward Bound is a six-week residential program held each summer. Students live in Wilkes residence halls while attending full days of classes and activities. Students also participate in an evening program, where weekly classes occur during the traditional academic year.

Both formats help students grow academically and socially by providing academic classes, career exploration, tutoring and college preparation, including financial aid and SAT guidance. College credit is available for specific courses.

Angeline Abraham is the director of Upward Bound at Wilkes University.

Angeline Abraham joined Wilkes in April 2022 as the director of Upward Bound. She has a decade of experience in working in youth development and is a 2007 graduate of the Wilkes Upward Bound program. She went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in sociology and anthropology from Mansfield University and a master’s degree in social work from Temple University. She is also a 2018 graduate of Leadership Northeast.

Prior to Wilkes, Abraham served first as an academic specialist and then the assistant director for Educational Opportunity Centers, Inc., which provides free services that assist and encourage high school students and adults in continuing their education.

“The Upward Bound program has prepared hundreds of students for college success and we hope to prepare hundreds more,” said Abraham. “The grant from the U.S. Department of Education recognizes the value of our program and allows us to continue to prepare local students for a successful college experience.”

Many Upward Bound alumni have gone on to great success, among them Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, Correspondent for ABC News John Quiñones and Hall of Fame NBA player Patrick Ewing. There are nearly 1,500 total graduates of the Wilkes Upward Bound program.

Campus-based Upward Bound programs provide students instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science and foreign language during the school year and the summer. Upward Bound also provides intensive mentoring and support for students as they prepare for college entrance exams and tackle admission applications, financial aid and scholarship forms. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86 percent of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In 2021, more than 70,000 students enrolled in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects in the United States. 

In 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act established Upward Bound as a pilot program in response to the War on Poverty. It was the first of seven federal “TRIO” programs to later be authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success, bolsters students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had and helps remove obstacles preventing students from thriving academically.

“As systemic inequality and financial hardship discourage students from succeeding in college, TRIO programs like Upward Bound take on new importance because they continue to help students who are low-income and first-generation to earn college degrees,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, D.C. COE is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities nationwide.

As of 2021, over 3,000 TRIO projects serve approximately 855,000 participants yearly. TRIO projects are in every state and territory in the nation.

For more information on Upward Bound, visit www.wilkes.edu/upwardbound.

Media coverage:

Wilkes University Awarded $2.2 Million Upward Bound GrantThe Times Leader

Wilkes U gets $2.2M grant for Upward Bound – The Citizens’ Voice

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