FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington’s Upward Bound program was recently awarded funding for the next five years by the U.S. Department of Education.
This annual grant of $353,456 will be used by the Upward Bound program to help low-income, first-generation students from central Maine prepare for and succeed in post-secondary education.
One of eight federal TRIO programs designed to serve individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, Upward Bound projects provide academic support to high-school students in mathematics, science, English and foreign languages. They also provide mentoring and counseling services to students and their families during the college search and financial-aid process.
The UMF affiliate is one of 780 recently-funded Upward Bound programs nationwide. These programs help close to 60,000 students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to access and succeed in college.
The UMF Upward Bound program currently works yearround with 79 students from 10 high schools in central Maine, according to its director Lynn Ploof-Davis.
“Students are typically with us throughout their high school years, and we continue to provide ongoing support and guidance for six years after they graduate,” Ploof-Davis said. “We really become a family during that time and it’s a wonderful feeling to see our students succeed. All 24 students in our program who will be graduating from high school this year are going on to higher education. It’s remarkable to be able to make that much of a difference in a young person’s life.”
In addition to its program during the school year, UMF’s Upward Bound also offers an intensive six-week summer experience. During that time, high-school students can take classes at UMF and stay in the residence halls on campus. They also have the opportunity to participate in the program’s summer career experience where they serve in one of over 30 internships at local businesses, schools, public offices and nonprofit organizations.
“Upward Bound is a huge commitment for these students,” Ploof-Davis said. “But, when you see the dramatic difference it makes in their lives, you understand why it’s so worth it to them.”
Since it first began in 1980, UMF’s Upward Bound program has helped prepare more than 500 young people for higher education. Of those Upward Bound participants who have enrolled in college since the class of 2000, 92 percent — more than three times the national average — have enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at public and private colleges and universities throughout the country.