Upward Bound Receives $1.8 Million Federal Grant

BLACKSBURG, Va., June 18, 2003 – The U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education, TRIO Programs, just awarded a grant to the Upward Bound program at Virginia Tech for $1.8 million. The funds will cover operations for the next four years, with a first-year allocation of $449,508. The first-year grant monies will be supplemented with in-kind support from Virginia Tech amounting to another $142,657.

The Federal TRIO Programs are educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes six outreach and support programs targeted to serve and assist low-income, first-generation college, and disabled students while they progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Thomas G. Wilson is director of the joint Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search office at Virginia Tech, which will join Outreach Program Development, part of Outreach and International Affairs, effective July 1. The Upward Bound/Talent Search office manages the two federal TRIO programs for the region, both of which target potential college students from families with parents who did not earn four-year degrees and/or with low incomes. The programs have a very high success rate, with 95% of the students from Tech's Upward Bound program and 70% of the Educational Talent Search students enrolling in college. A national survey shows Upward Bound students are four times more likely to graduate from college.

"The Upward Bound office is a good fit with our other programs that serve populations outside the university," said John E. Dooley, vice provost for Outreach and International Affairs, in announcing the grant and the merger. "Since Upward Bound guides high school students interested in attending college and Talent Search assists promising middle school, high school, and GED students up to age 27, outreach will be serving even more of Virginia's population. We hope this consolidation enables us to reach the region's youth more effectively."

Wilson is optimistic about the realignment. "Upward Bound and Talent Search are very excited to be joining Outreach and International Affairs. We look forward to forming new partnerships and collaborating on programs with more individuals and groups across the university community," he said.

Upward Bound, a federal program created in 1967, helps guide talented high school students toward a college education while improving their academic skills. It provides counseling in matching interests with abilities, choosing a career, tutoring to improve grades, training in library research techniques, selecting an appropriate college, and applying to colleges. Staff counselors visit each of the 115 Upward Bound students in 23 schools in 13 school districts once a month for individual sessions. These students must be from low income homes and/or homes in which parents did not graduate from four-year colleges.

Other Upward Bound activities include visits to the theatre, concerts, Virginia Tech athletic events, craft fairs, and trips to visit colleges. Each summer, students benefit from an introduction to the college experience during a six-week program on the Virginia Tech campus. While staying in one of the residence halls, students attend classes to help them prepare for their next year in high school, explore careers, visit other colleges, enjoy sports, go on field trips, and opt to join a choir or be part of a talent show. A spring weekend retreat on campus is also open to Upward Bound students. Workshops for parents are offered at least three times per year.

The Upward Bound program headquartered at Virginia Tech accepts students in Floyd, Franklin, Giles, Henry, Montgomery, Patrick, Pulaski, Smyth, Tazewell, and Wythe counties; and the cities of Galax, Lynchburg, and Martinsville.

Educational Talent Search, founded in 1973 to complement Upward Bound, encourages students to complete high school in a college preparatory program, choose a career, and pursue a college education. The program also helps those who have dropped out of high school obtain a GED. The Talent Search program based at Virginia Tech is fully funded by the federal government to serve 750 students from 32 schools, including seven middle schools. It is open to those between the ages of 12 and 27 who meet the same requirements as Upward Bound students. In addition to the locations served by Upward Bound, Talent Search also serves Grayson County.

Applications for both federally funded free programs are available from school counseling offices or from the Upward Bound/Talent Search office in the lower level of Hillcrest Hall, (540)231-6911. The program's web site at http://www.ubts.vt.edu has additional resources for middle and high school students.

The Upward Bound and Talent Search office was previously part of the College of Arts and Sciences.