The U.S. Department of Education announced its second set of awards for 40 Upward Bound projects, which will help close to 3,000 students acquire the knowledge and skills they need to access and succeed in college. They are designed to increase both the high school graduation and college completion rates of low-income, first-generation students.
These 40 grants, totaling more than $11 million, add to the first slate of 780 Upward Bound awards announced in May of this year. Together the program is providing a total of over $268.2 million to serve more than 62,500 students.
"The Upward Bound program has a legacy of helping low-income and first-generation students enter college, graduate, and move on to participate more fully in the workforce and America's economic life," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These new grants will continue to make a difference in the lives of students and families -- nurturing, motivating, and challenging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realize their dream of getting a college education and contributing to our Nation's prosperity."
Due to the expiration of College Cost Reduction and Access Act funds, about $57 million less money was available for Upward Bound grants in 2012 than was awarded in the last competition. Despite the reduction, increased efficiencies and new funding strategies made it possible for the Department to serve almost the same number of students as it did in the last competition.
In the FY2012 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.