The new, five-year grant to Hope College TRIO Upward Bound from the U.S. Department of Education continues a streak unbroken since the Hope program began in 1968.

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. It is longest-running Upward Bound program at a private college in the country, and has received federal funding through the U.S. Department of Education for its entire 54 years.

The new grant, which totals $437,006, will go into effect on June 1, 2023, following the conclusion of the five-year grant that preceded it. Word of the award was an ideal closing highlight for long-time director Liz Colburn, who retired on June 15 after 40 years with Hope College TRIO Upward Bound, the past 35 as director.

“I am incredibly grateful that Upward Bound will continue to serve Fennville, Holland, and West Ottawa High school students for another five years,” she said. “We are very fortunate to have strong support from our schools, community partners, and Hope College which has enhanced our ability to serve our students and successfully meet our program objectives.”

Continuity of leadership has been another strength.  Colburn has been succeeded as director by Andrea Mireles, who has been with the program since 1984, most recently as assistant director.

Hope College TRIO Upward Bound enrolls 92 students each year from the Holland, West Ottawa and Fennville school districts.  The program’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.

Administered by Hope since its inception, the program has helped more than 2,000 students graduate from high school and enter the college of their choice.  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.

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 SAT test preparation workshops are held throughout the year.

A 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.  At least two-thirds of the students in each local Upward Bound program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree.  In the 2021 fiscal year, more than 70,000 students enrolled in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects in the United States.

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.