Hope College TRIO Upward Bound is one of the oldest continuous Upward Bound programs in the country, and although it’s that longevity that’s providing the occasion, it’s the impact that will be celebrated during the program’s 50th-anniversary banquet on August 4.

Hope College TRIO Upward Bound seeks to generate the skills and motivation necessary for success in education beyond high school 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.  Established in 1968, the program has been administered through Hope since its inception, and has also received federal funding through the U.S. Department of Education for its entire 50 years.

The program enrolls 90 students each year from the Holland, West Ottawa and Fennville school districts. Since it began, more than 2,000 students have participated.

The celebration banquet will be attended by a mix of alumni from throughout the history of the program, current students and their parents, and interested community members, and will feature a keynote address by Dr. Arnold Mitchem, president emeritus of the Council for Opportunity in Education, which since its founding in 1981 has been dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Pacific Islands and Puerto Rico.

Hope College TRIO Upward Bound’s success rate in enrolling students in post-secondary institutions averages between 85 and 90 percent.  On average, 81 percent of the students who entered post-secondary institutions in the last five years are still enrolled or have graduated.

While the focus of Upward Bound is on academic advising and support, the program also continually offers personal and career advising as well as involvement in cultural and recreational activities.

Throughout the academic year, students come to Hope a minimum of twice a week to receive help in their high school subjects from Hope College tutors. One Friday or Saturday per month, the students meet for three hours to attend workshops on topics such as goal-setting, decision- making, the college search process, career awareness, financial literacy, and time management. A senior seminar, which meets once a week, helps seniors with the college admission and financial aid process, as well as scholarship research and applications. Several ACT/SAT test preparation workshops are held throughout the year.

The six-week summer residential program on the Hope campus exposes students to the academic and social world of college. Students live in a residence hall, attend classes, work in grade-level teams on project based learning (PBL) that apply what they are learning, and participate in career classes, internships, and college visits. Evenings are set aside for study sessions and social and cultural activities.

In addition to the structured academic and social activities, the Upward Bound students also volunteer for community projects, such as watershed clean-up and visiting with the elderly at senior living facilities. They also provide rest stops for the Holland 100 bike tour each summer in order to raise money for their cultural enrichment and college scholarship funds.

Nationwide, TRIO Upward Bound began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty with the Educational Opportunity Act of 1964.

The Hope program operates as part of a network of programs at the college focused on enhancing young students’ educational attainment.  The Children’s After School Achievement (CASA) and Step Up programs provide academic and cultural enrichment for underrepresented first- through fifth-grade students and middle-school students respectively.  Hope College TRIO Upward Bound also receives financial support from the Greater Ottawa County United Way, as do both CASA and Step Up.