Program helps students escape poverty through highter education

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Upward Bound, the country’s first federal program to prepare low-income students for college, is celebrating 50 years of helping high school students go from poverty to the middle class through higher education.

Among the millions of alumni who got their start through the program are two-time Oscar nominee, Viola Davis; best-selling author, Wil Haygood; ABS Primetime host, John Quinones; GE asset management president and CEO, Dmitri Stockton; Democratic national committee vice chairwoman, Donna Brazile; and a varied list of astronauts, judges, scientists, politicians, actors, musicians, scholars, inventors and entrepreneurs.

Since Upward Bound began in 1964 as a key element of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s war on poverty, the program has motivated and tutored low income students from families where neither parent holds a degree.

“Upward Bound works in nearly 1,000 American communities, helping students lift themselves, their families and our economy up through college education,” said Maureen Hoyler, president, Council for Opportunity in Education.

Upward Bound provides college preparation to students between the ages of 13 and 19, as well as older veterans whjo live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level where their chances of earning a bachelor’s degree are nearly nine times less than those of their peers in the top family income bracket.

Despite enormous challenges unique to a low income environment, Upward Bound participants are three times more likely to complete a college degree in six years than those who did not participate in college access services, according to the Pell Institute, a non-profit educational research organization.

Students who complete the course earn more money than they would with only a high school diploma and contribute nearly fivev times the cost of the program in taxes, the research shows.

“As someone who benefited greatly from Upward Bound, I can say it was a truly transformational experience on my journey to higher education and has had a similar impact on countless individuals,” said Stockton, who enrolled in the program as a high school student in Virginia.

Upward Bound began as an experimental program in the office of economic opportunity in 1964, enrolling 2,061 participants at 17 programs the following year. Today, more than 80,000 students participate in 964 programs nationwide.

For more information about Upward Bound locally, which serves Williamsport, Jersey Shore, Central Mountain and Bucktail high schools, contact Tulare Park, Upward Bound director, at 570-484-3054 or email