Upward Bound Down in Funding
The Wesleyan University chapter of Upward Bound, a national university-affiliated program that provides academic assistance to low-income and minority students, has lost funding after 45 years. However, the University was able to secure $250,000 of federal funding on Aug. 31 for Upward Bound Math-Science, a subset of the organization.
Until 2012, Upward Bound received $500,000 in federal funding per year in order to provide full support for students in need; however, this year the chapter found out that its application for a five-year TRIO/Upward Bound federal grant had not been accepted. The program is currently looking for other methods of funding but will not be able to reapply for a grant until 2017.
The University chapter of Upward Bound helps Middletown and Meriden students ranging in grade level from kindergarten to high school to succeed in high school and go on to college. Besides academic preparation, the chapter also works with students on their college applications and financial aid forms.
According to Director of Community Relations Frank Kuan, the budget limit has had, and will continue to have, dire consequences on the efficacy of the program, and many underrepresented youths of Middletown and Meriden will not receive necessary services. Kuan said that this speaks to a more urgent problem in the community.
“Results of the 2012 CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test) and CAPT (Connecticut Academic Performance Test) reaffirmed that the achievement gap in Connecticut continues to be one [of] the largest in the nation,” wrote Kuan in an email to The Argus. CMT and CAPT are academic assessments that determine students’ proficiency in reading comprehension, mathematics, writing, and science.
According to Kuan, the goal of Upward Bound is to offset this problem by increasing the number of tools that low-income students use to be college-ready and competitive.
The subset of Upward Bound that has continued to receive funding, Upward Bound Math-Science, serves students in grades 4 to 12 from Middletown, Meriden, Portland, and New Britain. The program aims to encourage greater potential in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
When Upward Bound’s federal funding did not come through this year, Upward Bound Math-Science applied and received a five-year grant of $250,000. The University Director of Upward Bound Math-Science and Collaborative Programs Beverly Hunter-Daniel confirmed that the program is currently the predominant Upward Bound chapter on campus and will now be known as Upward Bound Math-Science and Public Schools Collaborative Program.
Leah Temes ’13, who teaches a student forum during the 2012 fall semester entitled Upward Teaching: Students Helping Students Prepare for College Through Math & Motivated Learning, expressed excitement about the University’s academic involvement with the Middletown community. Her student forum is a one-credit course that provides the opportunity for students to teach math and gives local students access to an alternative academic experience.
“We want to stress the importance of math literacy by providing support for the work students do in school,” Temes wrote in an email to The Argus. “Upward Bound Math-Science has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic about this forum. Their continued support has really helped this come together.”
Although this program aids students in some ways, some have expressed disappointment, as they think the program cannot provide Middletown students with everything that Upward Bound used to provide.
“Alternative education courses, critical thinking, outdoor adventure learning, leadership development, and many other components of the old Upward Bound program have been lost, along with all full time employees,” wrote Paul Blasenheim ’12 in an email to The Argus.
In light of the current financial climate and the endowment issues that the University is facing, Upward Bound’s future remains uncertain.