Muskegon Community College was recently awarded a U.S. Department of Education grant for $257,500 annually over the next five years to support the TRIO Upward Bound project on campus.
The grant, which begins on Sept. 1, 2017 and continues through Aug. 31, 2022, will be used to serve a total of 59 students in Muskegon High School and Muskegon Heights Academy. This autumn marks the 11th consecutive year that MCC has offered TRIO Upward Bound. During that span, the project has delivered academic services and assistance to 233 students in Muskegon.
“The TRIO Upward Bound project provides opportunities for qualifying students to have the tools and support needed to complete high school and be prepared to pursue a college degree,” explained Robert Ross, who directs TRIO Upward Bound at MCC. “Muskegon Community College supports this project to encourage post-secondary education for high school students who never thought a college education was an option, primarily due to financial status.”
TRIO Upward Bound is one of a group of federally funded programs stemming from the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964, the original “War on Poverty” statute. The group of programs that make up the TRIO office within the federal Department of Education seek to provide academic services to individuals from low-income, first-generation, or disadvantaged populations.
“While the project focus is on academic preparation for college, Upward Bound also helps students develop the ‘soft skills’ that are necessary for success in college and careers,” added Ross. “ “Students are also encouraged to participate in community service activities, where they connect with agency staff and volunteers to build a sense of community, develop relationships that can help them with scholarship opportunities, and build a resume for college applications.”
Over the past 10 years, between 85-90 percent of the local participants who completed the project have enrolled in college following graduation from high school.
The Upward Bound project runs a year-round calendar of activities that includes an academic year component and a summer session.
During the academic year, the project staff conducts after-school tutoring and homework sessions two days each week at each target school to provide resources and academic assistance to the participants.
The summer session, conducted on the MCC campus, focuses on building the academic skills needed by the students to succeed in their upcoming high school classes. Students also have opportunities during the summer session to participate in a variety of activities on campus where they can develop or enhance their artistic, recreational, and culinary skills.
Magnolia Jones, the project’s academic advisor at MCC, connects with the students on a daily or weekly basis to track their progress and address any issues that may arise with a student’s grades or attendance.
“I consider it a privilege to serve our students, build long-term relationships and help them to prepare for post-secondary education and life beyond high school,” she noted.
Students receive assistance with preparation for the ACT/SAT tests, financial literacy, the financial aid process, finding and applying for scholarships, and assistance with college applications. Project staff also keep the parents and guardians of participants informed with monthly meetings throughout the school year.
For more information on the TRIO Upward Bound project at MCC, contact Robert Ross at (231) 777-0202 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.