Upward Bound // Helping Students in Greater Lansing Reach their Potential


NonprofitBy Alexandria Kobryn

A college education is becoming more difficult for students to attain, whether it be for financial reasons or an absence of motivation to further one’s education after high school. Upward Bound, a non-profit organization affiliated with Michigan State University, assists high school students in their work to prepare for the transition into college.

“[The mission] is to generate the motivation and the skills that are necessary to graduate from high school, enter college and attend until you get to college graduation,” said Upward Bound Program Director, Glenda Hammond.

To qualify, students typically are either from low-income families, a student with a disability or they are potential first-generation college students.

“As we are preparing the students academically, we are also working on other aspects of the student’s development, such as cultural enrichment, social development, leadership development, character building and civic engagement,” said Hammond. “All things that we feel will make a student well-balanced.”

According to Hammond, the program started with President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. With his platform of war and poverty, he provided legislation that started the very first Upward Bound program.

“It started as an exposure-based program where we would expose students to a campus environment and various activities that would motivate them to want to go to college,” said Hammond. “From that, it evolved into a more substantial program where we developed objectives and activities that would ensure that, with these services, these students will get into college.”

Students are recruited in the ninth grade and commit to the program year-round until high school graduation. Recruitment occurs every November at three different high schools that Upward Bound partners with in the Lansing area: Eastern High School, J.W. Sexton High School and Everett High School.

During the academic year, students meet with their mentors on Mondays after school for homework assistance and study skills instruction.

“During their senior year, we are teaching them how to complete college applications, develop their resume, helping them with their financial aid, applying for scholarships and taking the SAT,” said Hammond.

The summer component of the program, however, is much more intense. Students are on campus every day for six weeks taking courses, visiting different areas and buildings on campus and volunteering within the community.

Members of the community have a variety of opportunities to get involved with Upward Bound, by becoming a mentor or a volunteer.

“[College students] can apply during the summer and the school year to become a paid tutor. If one has a teaching degree, during the summer they can apply to become an instructor.”

Upward Bound will celebrate its 50th anniversary from Aug. 19-21. Alumni of the program and members of the community are invited to celebrate 50 years of success.

“We have a very long record of students getting accepted into college. Our average college placement rate is 95 percent or better,” said Hammond. “Fifty percent of our students will have graduated from college.”

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