Upward Bound Grows with Students

By: Nicole Walker

As the old saying goes, "If there's a will, there's a way," and for students who have the will, Upward Bound will aid the way.

For students with a hunger for knowledge and a motivation for future success, Upward Bound provides the necessary tools to help students get to college and stay there.

"The more we prepare them in high school, the better they will do in college," said Maria Moreno, Upward Bound director and program alumna.

Maria Moreno : headshot
Maria Moreno

Upward Bound is a federally funded competitive grant through the U.S. Department of Education that strives to serve low-income high school students and prepare them for postsecondary education at no cost, Moreno said.

Chico State's Upward Bound program serves a diverse population. For some of these students, especially young women, one hurdle to attending college is gaining permission from their parents. Upward Bound aims to educate and help families understand the process of college since many are first-generation college students.

Upward Bound promotes collaboration and the understanding of people from different backgrounds.
These students go through hardships that are beyond academics.

"I love the idea that knowledge speaks some sort of volume of power, and I wish that I could reduce some stigma about first-generation college students," said Kendall Enns, English education major and Upward Bound alumna.

Upward Bound provides academic tutoring, college information, campus visits, and help with financial aid and college applications. It also runs a six-week summer residential program that serves 240 students from 18 different high schools in the North State.

Moreno said that the success of Upward Bound relies on the success of students, specifically students who graduate from college.

The summer residential program introduces the roles of a college student, teaching attendees how to manage time and balance responsibilities. Upward Bound students in the residential program take college preparation classes taught by high school teachers and college professors at Chico State. The students live in residence halls and dine at Sutter Hall during the six-week program.

The students begin every day at 6 a.m. and finish activities at 11 p.m., which helps them gain a sense of college and provides a head start for their high school classes in the fall. Along with classes, the students are given the opportunity to gain work experience by volunteering on campus and with downtown entities.

"I would love coming to the program, and I would hate leaving every summer, that was where I met my best friends," said Michael Lang-Perry, psychology major and Upward Bound alumnus.

However, the resources don't stop at high school, Upward Bound supports students throughout their college career with computer labs, academic advising, and counseling to ensure they are on a path to graduation. Up to half of the program's high school graduates go to Chico State and the majority of those who attend work for and give back to Upward Bound.

"Our current Chico State students that are alumni of the program serve as role models for our current kids," Moreno said.

The examples alumni set inspire new Upward Bound students to aim high regardless of their backgrounds.

The program is growing rapidly. From 50 students, one grant, and a temporary building on the corner of campus, Upward Bound has expanded to the third floor of the Student Services Center and now serves 340 students with four grants, Moreno said.

However, the grants that fund Upward Bound are not easy to come by.

These grants are competed for nationwide. There are 900 Upward Bound programs throughout the country. Chico State has housed its program since 1966, making it the longest running grant funded on campus.

Currently, one of the four grants focus mainly on math and science in pursuit of post-secondary degrees and careers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Chico State was one of 113 campuses granted an Upward Bound Math-Science Program grant, which will be incorporated into the program's classes this summer.

"We have an amazing group of kids every single year who are very accomplished and very motivated, they just need that help," Moreno said.

Maria Moreno and Upward Bound students
Maisue Thao, Fabiola Paniagua, Jelly Empasis, Michael Lang-Perry, Katrina Thao, Ting Thao, Maria Moreno