by TaLeiza Calloway
The College of St. Benedict is one of 20 state schools to receive funding to continue its Upward Bound program for the next five years.
CSB got a grant for about $1.4 million from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the program at CSB and St. John’s University.
Program Director Jennifer Whitehead said her heart goes out to the schools that were not refunded. Similar programs have seen large budget cuts this year.
“It was a huge relief,” Whitehead said. “We were lucky.”
The program will be funded $287,881 per year for five years starting Sept. 1 and serve 64 high school students per year. The school’s current grant ends Aug. 31.
Upward Bound is a part of a cluster of programs called TRIO. The programs were established by the federal Higher Education Act of 1965. Its goal is to help low-income and first-generation students — students whose parents did not attend college — attend college.
Whitehead said the program has been at CSB and SJU since 1995 and has served more than 300 students from high schools that include St. Cloud Tech, St. Cloud Apollo, Sauk-Rapids-Rice and Willmar. There are also students who participate from Rocori and Sartell high schools.
The program runs during the academic year and in the summer. Students stay pretty busy, having only the month of August off. The academic year runs from September through May with the summer program running in June and July.
The residential summer program started on June 10. Students have the chance to live on campus, take core courses that include math, science and language arts, as well as the study of a language, she said.
This year, 38 students will learn Chinese.
There are three components to the program during the school year. One of its biggest programs is the after-school tutoring program at various high schools. Students meet for about an hour and 45 minutes one day a week and get help with homework and more.
The second component includes school visits from program advisors who help shape student goals. The third area is centered on volunteerism. Usually starting in September, students have five Saturday sessions focused on a group activity like service projects such as volunteering at organizations like Kids Against Hunger or even cleaning up a portion of a highway, she said.
Whitehead said the purpose of the summer program is to expose students to something they might not have otherwise been exposed to. Overall, it helps students experience college life.
“I think in working with low-income students, many of them think college is impossible,” Whitehead said. “Upward Bound helps students realize college is possible. It’s a privilege to help students find their dreams and be successful.”