posted July 16, 2008

Upward Bound Makes Summer a Time of Learning

 Hope College Upward Bound has been marking its 40th-anniversary year in grand style, with an active summer program that not only keeps its high school students busy learning through classes on campus, but has also included a trip to Washington, D.C., an opportunity to make presentations at the state Capitol and internships throughout West Michigan.

Upward Bound, which began in 1968, serves approximately 80 high school students from the Holland, West Ottawa and Fennville school districts during both the school year (afternoons and some weekends) and the summer.  This year's six-week summer session, which is a residential program, began on Monday, June 16, and will continue through Friday, July 25.

Upward Bound seeks to generate the skills and motivation necessary for success in education beyond high school from among students from low-income and first-generation families who have the potential to pursue a college education but may lack adequate preparation or support.  The goal of the program is to increase the academic performance and motivational levels of eligible students so that they may complete secondary schooling and successfully pursue post-secondary educational programs.  Hope College Upward Bound is funded through the TRIO program of the U.S. Department of Education.

Throughout the summer session, the students are living on campus and attending classes in subjects including English, foreign language, history, mathematics and science from 9 a.m. to 2:50 p.m., as well as elective classes in the arts and physical education.  Staff and mentors in the program include educators and college-age assistants who were themselves once Upward Bound students.

Through Tuesday, July 22, the students are participating in internships throughout West Michigan, and in a variety of fields.  Their placements have ranged from the Holland office of Congressman Pete Hoekstra; to the Holland Police Department; to ZeelandCommunityHospital; to Allegan County Mental Health; to area businesses and professional offices; to the Children's After School Achievement (CASA) program and the departments of engineering and music at Hope.  The internship mentors include adults who were themselves in Upward Bound as high school students.

This year's Upward Bound theme, scheduled in light of the presidential election year, is "Raise Your Voice," and activities have also centered on building awareness of how the government works and how citizens can shape the governing process by making their voices heard.

On July 1-4, juniors and seniors participating in Upward Bound visited Washington, D.C., to learn more about the federal government.  While the older students were in Washington, D.C., the freshmen and sophomores visited the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways in Mount Pleasant to learn more about culture, heritage and history of the Anishinabek, or Native American, peoples of Michigan, and to gain insights into how citizen involvement can shape policies and programs that address needs in the Native American community.

On Monday, July 14, the Upward Bound students visited the state Capitol in Lansing and met with a variety of Capitol and state-level program staff members to learn about their work and career experiences.  In addition, a dozen of the students volunteered to read position papers that they had written during their Upward Bound classes concerning their experiences with the Upward Bound program and the way that it has benefited them and others.  The July 14 visit was supported by a "Brighter Futures" grant from the Michigan Campus Compact to Dr. Deborah Sturtevant of the Hope sociology and social work faculty for a variety of activities on behalf of the Children's After School Achievement and Upward Bound programs at Hope.

The remaining two weeks will include a variety of additional activities.  On Thursday, July 17, the students will present "UB Live: A Reflection of Cultures," a talent show and food fair that will be held at Holland's East K-8 school in the evening.  On Saturday, July 19, the students and staff will provide refreshments at four stations established along the route of the 34th Annual Holland 100 Bicycle Tour; in turn, the Macatawa Cycling Club is in turn contributing portions of the registration proceeds in support of the Upward Bound Scholarship Fund.  On Monday, July 21, the program's students will travel to Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill., to attend the Siemens Automation Expo Tour and meet with young professionals who are participating in the event to gain additional insights into the role that education can play in their lives and the shape that career journeys can take.  The students and their achievements will also be celebrated during an evening honors ceremony near the close of the summer program.