May 23, 2012
By Alexis Malure
With 45 years of programming experience, Ohio University's Gladys W. & David H. Patton College of Education has recently been selected by the United States Department of Education to receive funding for its Upward Bound Program, a Federal TRIO Program that targets its services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"Upward Bound serves a critical role in our region, where many students don't have the skills or self confidence to think of themselves as being college ready," explains Kwabena Owusu-Kwarteng, Upward Bound's interim associate director. "It allows our local schools to work with those kids so that college is an option for them – it gives them opportunities and skill sets that they need."
OHIO will receive a grant in the amount of $364,413 for the first budget period, starting June 1, 2012 through May 31, 2013, and it is anticipated that it will be renewable for five years.
Now in her sixth year with the college, Howley helped oversee the grant writing process along with Ricky Huard, the College's Research Grant Development Coordinator. They attribute the successful outcome to the longevity and sophistication of OHIO's program, the program's efforts to use data effectively, and, of course, the hard work of the Upward Bound team.
"I think two things led to our success in winning the award, and they are things that were emphasized in the grant writing process. One is that we have a long history of offering Upward Bound successfully at Ohio University to our region in Ohio, so we have a track record," stated Patton College of Education Dean Renée A. Middleton. "We built on that track record to say 'here is what we've done well in the past, but in this new proposal we're going to do some different things'. And, part of that has to do with using data even more carefully in order to track progress – so the new proposal did have a more sophisticated data plan than we had in the past and I think it brings everything up to date with the times."
The overall purpose of the Upward Bound program is to provide participants with the skills and motivation necessary to complete a secondary education as well as succeed in a program of postsecondary education.
"Due to the low tertiary educational attainment in the area, first-generation college students face a herculean task in navigating the college system when compared to students who come from families where parents have some experience with college education," explained Middleton. "Programs like Upward Bound help both students and their parents learn about the college application, admission and enrollment process."
In order to qualify as a program participant, one not only must be a first-generation college student but also come from a low-income family. The program targets students who have a high risk for academic failure and therefore need academic support in order to succeed in a postsecondary education program.
"The idea here is that if you have parents who attended college, they at least know some of the ropes of what college is, how to apply, how to adjust study skills and how to prepare academically. However, students from homes where parents did not go to college don't have that added support from home, so Upward Bound provides that support and tries to make college a less threatening idea," said Howley.
Upward Bound is one of eight federally funded programs designed to foster equality among high school students seeking higher education. OHIO's program, like others, is specifically designed to help participants overcome financial, social and cultural hurdles.
"Upward Bound is obviously a program with limited resources because it's federally funded and only targets a certain number of students. However it does provide services to students over a multi-year period."
Once in the program, Upward Bound provides services such as academic tutoring, guidance in secondary and postsecondary course selection, assistance in college entrance exams and college admission applications, and also provides financial information about federal aid programs.
"The future goal of the program is to increase the number of students we serve. We also, want [continue] to help our students who qualify for college to be able to enroll without their economic status preventing such an outcome," concluded Kwabena Owusu-Kwarteng.