UMF Upward Bound program receives grant

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FARMINGTON — A $20,000 grant will enable the University of Maine at Farmington’s Upward Bound Program to continue with new programs and to reinstate services cut for lack of funding.

The grant is one of 18 awards received by schools and nonprofits across the state as part of a newly created Maine College Access Challenge Grant program administered by the Finance Authority of Maine. More than $500,000 came to the state for high schools and programs such as Upward Bound, said Lynn Ploof-Davis, director of the UMF Upward Bound Program.

The funds are targeted to help increase the number of low-income, first-generation students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.

Some new aspects of the program include an after-school workshop dealing with finances, Ploof-Davis said. It includes budgeting, knowing the difference between need and want and all kinds of money issues, she said. High school seniors and their parents learn about financial aid opportunities at school.

Other new endeavors include meetings with parents to explore goals and talk about going to college, a debt-reduction workshop and a newsletter for first-generation college students, she said.

The grant will also help reinstate some services that had to be cut, she said. In her 27 years with the program, she had not seen it as “financially in dire straits.” 

The six-week summer program has continued, she said.

“We can reinstate things that work, including travel to colleges,” she said. The program recently took 18 students to Boston, and they began to realize the potential for attending college, she said.

The local Upward Bound works with 67 high school students from 11 schools in west central Maine, mostly in Somerset and Franklin counties, she said.

In the past 10 years, 87 percent of UMF Upward Bound students have increased their high school grade-point averages since entering the program. Eighty percent of seniors in the program have enrolled in college.

Students in the program participate year-round throughout high school, receiving academic support, college admission assistance, career counseling and cultural and recreational opportunities.

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