Students and graduates from Hope College TRIO Upward Bound will participate in the 2021 National TRIO Day of Service on Saturday, Feb. 27, to express appreciation to the community for its support of the program that focuses on helping them succeed in education beyond high school.

To celebrate the National TRIO Day of Service, students have identified a variety of ways they will volunteer their time within their communities including baking for health care workers, reading to younger children, picking up garbage, and assisting neighbors with snow or ice removal. Mayor Nathan Bocks will kick off the event at 10:30 a.m. followed by two alumni who will share why and how they give back in their own communities. Students will submit pictures and videos of their volunteer work which will be shared at the afternoon closing event.

For millions of students from low-income families who strive to be the first in their families to attend and graduate from college, seven federally funded programs called TRIO are making a world of difference.  Unlike student financial aid programs which help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, the TRIO programs have been providing valuable supportive services to students from poor and working families to successfully enter college and graduate for over 50 years.

TRIO services include: assistance in choosing a college; tutoring; personal and financial counseling; career counseling; assistance in applying to college; workplace and college visits; special instruction in reading, writing, study skills, and mathematics; assistance in applying for financial aid; and academic support in high school or assistance to re-enter high school.

Today more than 1,000 colleges, universities and community agencies host more than 2,800 TRIO projects that serve more than 800,000 young people and adults. TRIO serves students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. Currently, 34% of TRIO students are white, 33% are African American, 21% are Hispanic, 4% are Asian American or Pacific Islander, 4% are American Indian, and 1% are listed as “other,” including multiracial students.

The TRIO Upward Bound program has been on Hope’s campus since 1968 and has served several thousand area students in its 54 years of existence. Currently funded to serve 85 students on a yearly basis, with the help of United Way funds, the program has been able to increase the number of participants to over 90.

Hope College TRIO alumni are employed in a wide variety of professions including education, business, engineering, accounting, medicine, government and social work. Alumni continue to give back to the program as speakers, mentors, scholarship donors, teachers and Advisory Board members.

Current participants Samantha Tapia-Silva and Nereyda Sanchez Gama shared some thoughts about their Upward Bound experience.

“I highly recommend it because UB doesn’t just get you out of your shell, but also helps you grow into an amazing person with lots of new skills that we didn’t know we had and helps us have open mind about what college will be like and what things (applications, interviews, etc.) will be headed your way,” said Tapia-Silva, a senior at Holland High School. According to Sanchez Gama, a senior at West Ottawa High School, “It [Upward Bound] really is an amazing opportunity, I really took advantage of all the new college prep lessons or skills. It gives you a head start on what college is like and helps build strong skills.”