12:30 PM

UHD Upward Bound Receives Nearly $500K from U.S. Department of Education


By Mike Emery


The transition from high school to a university setting is often challenging for high school students. Without appropriate mentoring or preparation, some students run the risk of not succeeding in college or possibly not even attempting to earn a degree.

That's where the University of Houston-Downtown's (UHD) Upward Bound program comes in.

Since 1980, UHD Upward Bound has helped Houston high school students recognize their academic potential and prepare for college through after-school and summer programming. More than 100 students from four high schools (Kashmere, Worthing, Westbury, and Austin) participate in this program, but a $497,413 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will extend its support to even more Houston-area students. UHD's grant is the second largest among state institutions receiving funding for Upward Bound programming.

The five-year grant will enable UHD Upward Bound to expand its students to a fifth school, Madison High School. It also will support UHD Upward Bound's efforts to prepare students for SAT and ACT tests, tutoring initiatives, and a Summer Bridge program.

"This is an important grant for a very important program at UHD," said Dawana M. Lewis, director of UHD Upward Bound. "We're pleased that the Department of Education recognizes the significance of Upward Bound in our community and is excited to accept more students into our program. It's a win for UHD, and more importantly, for the students of Houston."

UHD Upward Bound serves prospective first-generation, low-income college students by providing them with an introduction to a university-setting that offers both academic and personal insights.

"If it wasn't for this program, many of these students wouldn't be exposed to a college environment or receive guidance to steer them toward attending a university such as UHD," Lewis said.

UHD Upward Bound complements the work of high school counselors by offering Saturday programming during each academic year. Weekend programs include tutoring, campus tours, workshops and enrichment activities. These Saturday sessions also prepare students for the: ACT, SAT, TAKS, and STAAR. Upward Bound also delivers a six-week summer program, delivering pre-college experiences for high school students, who study mathematics, humanities, science, social sciences and PSAT preparation. Also included is the Summer Bridge program that provides high school students, who have graduated, up to six hours of college credits.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education has met with applause on campus and in the community. U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has been among the most vocal supporters of UHD Upward Bound.

"Creating opportunities for underserved students and providing them with the knowledge and tools to excel in academics has always been one of my major priorities. I am pleased that the University of Houston-Downtown has been awarded a $497,413 grant to assist students in our community in their academic endeavors," Jackson said.

Echoing her sentiment is UHD President Dr. Juan Sánchez Muñoz is pleased to welcome Upward Bound students to UHD and possibly as members of the student community.

"Providing students with access to higher education opportunities is a priority at UHD," he said. "Upward Bound is an excellent example of how the University helps young Houstonians continue their academic journeys beyond high school. Moreover, we are thrilled that UHD received the second largest grant allocated in the state to continue hosting an Upward Bound program. It will ensure that future students at this University, and others throughout the state, continue to succeed in our classrooms and beyond."