Hope College TRIO Upward Bound is the longest-running Upward Bound program at a private college in the country. Its 55th Anniversary Gala: Living Legacies on April 12, however, will not be about longevity but instead will focus on the thousands of lives that have been transformed.

Established in 1968, and one of 1,030 TRIO Upward Bound programs serving 4,294 students in the United States, Hope College TRIO Upward Bound has helped thousands of students graduate from high school, attend the college of their choice and complete post-secondary education, changing not only the trajectory of their lives but the future of their families and the communities of which they become a part.  Reflecting the theme “TRIO Works!,” Hope College TRIO alumni are employed in a wide variety of professions and throughout the nation, including but not limited to institutions of education throughout the country, Bethany Christian Services, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, City of Holland, Fuentes Consulting, 58th District Court, Gentex Inc., Grand Rapids Diocese, Haworth Inc., Hope College, Intercare, LAUP, Michigan Senate Office, MillerKnoll Inc., Lockheed Martin Aerospace Company, Protect Democracy, Sanford Health Cardiothoracic, U.S. MI-District 4, and Vida Counseling & Wellness.

Hope College TRIO Upward Bound, which has been administered by Hope since its inception, is also distinctive for having received federal funding through the U.S. Department of Education for its entire 55 years.  The department’s current federal grant went into effect on June 1, 2023, and will provide support through May 31, 2028.

The program’s April 12 anniversary event will be a gala at the college’s Haworth Hotel that will include the voices of four TRIO Upward Bound alumni and a glimpse of their journey and how their TRIO Upward Bound experience influenced their lives.  With alumni from throughout the history of the program and numerous others attending, the gala will also include a keynote address by Tommy C. Walls of the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, D.C.

The Hope College TRIO Upward Bound grant includes enrollment for 92 students 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%.  On average, 81% of the students who entered post-secondary institutions in the last five years are still enrolled or have graduated.

While the focus of TRIO 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.

In addition to their daily school day, throughout the academic year, students come to Hope College a minimum of twice a week to receive help in their high school subjects from Hope College students who serve as academic coaches. 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 weekly senior seminar provides step-by-step guidance for seniors and their parents through the college admission and financial aid process, including scholarship research and applications. SAT test preparation workshops are held each spring fall and summer.

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 rigorous courses, work in grade-level teams on project-based learning (PBL) that apply what they are learning, and participate in Access to College & Career Exploration (ACCE) classes, internships, and college visits. Evenings are set aside for study skill development sessions, social and cultural activities.

In addition to the structured academic and social activities, the TRIO Upward Bound students also volunteer for community projects, such as the Refresh Hygiene and Hope Program, Alliance of Cultural and Ethnic Harmony, City of Holland International Festival, Community Action House Community Kitchen, Hope College Children’s After School Achievement (CASA) Program and Hope College Step-Up. TRIO Upward Bound students, parents and alumni provide food stops for the Holland 100 bike tour each summer in order to raise money for the program’s discretionary and 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 TRIO Upward Bound program are from low-income economic and first-generation backgrounds in which neither parent has a completed a bachelor’s degree.  

The Hope TRIO Upward Bound Program collaborates with Hope College Educational Outreach, a network of programs at the college focused on enhancing the educational attainment of young students.  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. Several CASA and Step Up students apply to TRIO Upward Bound during their 8th grade year to continue their educational journey through high school and into college completion. TRIO Works!