The Upward Bound Program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) received a five year renewal of $1.5 million to serve up to 68 students per year. Upward Bound has been operating on the NEO campus since 1999 and it serves Oklahoma area high school students who will become first generation college students or are from low-income families. James Walkingstick, a recent NEO Upward Bound graduate will attend Harvard University in the fall and attributes much of his personal and academic growth to the program. “They answered all of my countless questions and I owe my success in college preparation to them. I was quiet and shy when I entered the program, but now I feel completely comfortable leading a group. I have a definite path to success.” “I am excited to be able to continue our services in this community by positively impacting our youth,” said Elsie Grover, NEO Upward Bound Coordinator. “We are fortunate enough to receive a lot of support from NEO’s administration, the target area high schools, and local community members. This program really teaches students how to make their college dreams into reality.”
The federal Upward Bound program was established in the 1960s as part of the TRiO programs. These programs focused on targeting low-income and first generation students to receive a hand up when it came to education. As part of the “War of Poverty,” the programs enhanced educational access for students with the goal of college graduation and a stable, well-paying career. Students join Upward Bound as high school freshmen or sophomores and participate throughout their high school career. NEO’s program has had tremendous success over the past five years as other area programs are losing funding.
Between 2012 and 2016, 93% of the students achieved the primary objective, which is to maintain high academic performance by earning a 2.5 grade point average or higher. 96% of NEO Upward bound students score proficient or higher on their standardized tests, and every participant in the program has successfully graduated high school. Upward Bound serves as a critical resource for students as over 90% are both first generation and low-income students. Most notably, 78% of students in the program immediately enrolled in a post-secondary institution, which surpassed the goal by 43%.
“Director Grover, her staff, and the NEO Upward Bound program continue to positively impact young lives and families in northeast Oklahoma,” said Dr. Jeff Hale, NEO President. “NEO will continue to work closely with Elsie and her team to bring the much needed federal dollars to our area so students will continue to have access to quality higher education.” For more information about the NEO Upward Bound program, contact Elsie Grover at Elsie.Grover@neo.edu.