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Jackson State University awarded $2.8M toward Upward Bound programs

As a result of a $2.8 million dollar grant, JSU's Trio Programs is adding two new Upward Bound Programs to its roster. The UB programs will serve the following high schools: Forest Hill, Wingfield, Callaway, and Murrah. (William Kelly /University Communications)

As a result of a $2.8 million dollar grant, JSU’s Trio Programs is adding two new Upward Bound Programs to its roster. The UB programs will serve the following high schools: Forest Hill, Wingfield, Callaway, and Murrah. (William Kelly /University Communications)

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The U.S Department of Education recently awarded Jackson State University two Upward Bound grants of $1.4 million individually, which shall be dispersed annually over five years totaling $2.8M. This is the first UB grant for JSU since 2017.

“As a former Upward Bound participant, I am very excited to add the Upward Bound Program to our TRIO program offerings,” says Mitchell Shears, Ph.D, executive director of JSU Title III programs, “The UB program will focus solely on high school students and could definitely be a driving force for increased postsecondary enrollment and completion which are two of the objectives.”

Upward Bound aims to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

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(William Kelly /University Communications)

A federal TRIO program, Upward Bound is an 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 locally are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86 percent of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In FY21, more than 70,000 students enrolled in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects in the United States. 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.

The two JSU Upward Bound programs, JSU Tiger Survivors and JSU Navigators, will provide fundamental support to participants in preparation for their higher education pursuits.

“One of the great things about being awarded this UB program that is different from other TRIO programs is that the UB program must provide a six-week instructional program for high school participants on a college campus. This will give the participants, right here in our city, a chance to actually experience six weeks of college life on the campus of Jackson State University.” said Shears.

Over five years, the program will serve the following four local high schools: Forest Hill, Wingfield, Callaway, and Murrah. The JSU Tiger Survivors Upward Bound program will specifically target students who attend Forest Hill and Wingfield High School. In contrast, the JSU Navigators Upward Bound program will target students attending Callaway and Murrah High School.

Shears looks forward to investing the provided financial resources towards the expansion of the Upward Bound program and providing hands-on training in preparation for postsecondary education.

“When I wrote the grant, the vision was to write multiple grants to provide the opportunity for as many students in the Jackson area that we could. It is our goal to also take the students outside of the city of Jackson to explore other colleges, universities and careers across the state and the nation,” said Shears.

The Upward Bound program is slated to begin in September 2022 with program directors recruiting students in the selected high schools.