CSULB’s Upward Bound program recently received two U.S. Department of Education grants worth $527,548 and $1,172,652, respectively.
Classic Upward Bound I, which received the first grant serves local schools in the Long Beach and Lakewood Unified School Districts, while Classic Upward Bound II serves a larger area covering Compton, Carson and Gardena. The program is present at 17 high schools within a 50-mile service area, which translates to 120 students in Upward Bound I and 70 students in Upward Bound II.
“These grants are wonderful,” said Upward Bound Director Philip Humphreys, who joined the university in 1995 and has served as director since 2002. “They enable the staff to follow their passion to get students into college.”
Since its founding on campus in 1970, the program worked with low-income high school students to help them gain admission to the university of their choice and to graduate with baccalaureate degrees.
“The students participate in a variety of activities such as visits to universities in Northern and Southern California,” said Humphreys. “Our students make better-informed decisions based on these trips about what campuses best fit their learning styles and which campuses offer their best majors or career options.”
Even though Upward Bound is based on campus, it does not recruit solely for CSULB. “About 20 percent of our participating students wind up enrolling here,” he explained. “But around 80 percent enroll across the nation. It is a way of planting CSULB’s banner all over the country.”
Humphreys is pleased with the programs success.
“Our goal is to send 90 percent of our participating students on to a university,” he explained. “In fact, last year 99 percent of our participating students graduated high school and went on to higher education. That is up from the year before when 98 percent graduated. This year, 36 seniors from area high schools in our program were accepted by 86 universities across the nation. The year before, 45 graduating seniors were accepted by 106 universities. This is a huge success rate and demonstrates that the program is working and the students are benefitting. Our focus is to prepare students with the life skills they need to be a success at the university level.”
One of the program’s greatest strengths is the TRIO pipeline, a federal system that offers educational opportunity outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO, a termed coined in the late 1960s to describe these programs, includes five outreach and support programs helping low-income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post baccalaureate programs. These TRIO programs include the Educational Information Services’ Talent Search to support middle and high school students graduating from high school, entering college and successfully earning their baccalaureate degrees; Upward Bound; Student Support Services, which works with university students in successfully earning their baccalaureate degrees; the McNair Scholars, which are designed to raise the number of students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated academic potential to go on to graduate study; and the Educational Opportunity Center, that assists adults to enter or continue in college.
“One of the beautiful parts to Upward Bound is how graduates often return to serve as tutors and counselors. It is their way of giving back to the community,” said Humphreys. “When other students see that success by students who sat in the same seats as they do, they are encouraged. It demonstrates the importance of equipping these students with the life skills they need to be successful themselves and to raise families who also will attend higher education.”
Humphreys gets a great deal of satisfaction from working with his dedicated and committed staff of professionals including Latosha Manuel, Aaron Beasley, Silvestre Regalado, Maggie Rivera and Sandra Young, who share the same enthusiasm and focus in assisting high school students in earning their baccalaureate degrees.
“This is why we do our jobs here,” he said. “I have heard countless stories about students who never believed they had the option to attend college. That kind of attitude shapes a community. But at graduation, younger brothers, sisters and cousins see a college education as a valuable, viable vehicle for a productive life. Many of these students were told in high school they were not college material. Upward Bound’s 99 percent success rate proves that prediction wrong. It demonstrates that if we can give them the proper tools and motivation along with the right incentives and life skills, they can be successful at a university.”