The U.S. Department of Education announced its first set of awards for 780 Upward Bound projects today, which will help close to 60,000 students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to access and succeed in college. These grants represent more than $254 million to fund projects that are designed to increase both the high school graduation and college completion rates of low-income, first-generation students.
In addition, following statutory requirements, the Department will be awarding a second slate of almost $9 million in the coming weeks, which will result in the program providing in total over $260 million to serve almost 62,000 students.
"A college education is the ticket to the middle class, and these Upward Bound projects will help students take the next step toward the American Dream," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "The Upward Bound program has a long history of providing key support to those who need it the most. Continuing to provide these resources for disadvantaged students will help to build a college-educated workforce in communities across the nation and ultimately revitalize our country's economy."
Due to the expiration of College Cost Reduction and Access Act funds, significantly less money -- about $49 million -- is available for Upward Bound grants in 2012 than was awarded in the last competition. Despite the reduction, due to increased efficiencies and new funding strategies the Department will serve almost the same number of students as it did in the last competition.
In the FY 2012 competition, the Department took steps to strategically align Upward Bound with overarching reform strategies for K-12 and to further enhance the Administration's 2020 college completion goal. Through the inclusion of targeted preference priorities, many of this year's grantees will be serving more students in the persistently lowest-achieving schools; emphasizing data to help drive decision-making; and being more productive to make better use of resources in achieving improved results. It also introduced a new funding framework that created strong incentives for applicants to serve additional students, while still having a safety valve that gave less efficient applicants room to improve.
For more information on the Upward Bound program, including the list of FY 2012 grantees, visit: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/index.htm.