Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science Programs Renewed for Five Years

Shows three high schools students in a science lab
High school students participate in the Upward Bound Math Science summer program.

The Upward Bound programs hosted by Boston University received another five years of funding from the US Department of Education. Upward Bound received $2.3 million, while Upward Bound Math Science received $1.4 million, along with cost-share funding from BU. 

BU has hosted Upward Bound since 1989 and Upward Bound Math Science since 2007. Both programs are part of BU Wheelock’s College Access & Student Success (CASS) Office. Twice a week, high school students in the Upward Bound programs come to BU to receive instruction, tutoring, and support from college students and teachers hired by the University. A combination of rigorous coursework, social connections, mentoring, and one-on-one support helps them get into competitive colleges—and succeed as students there.

“The goals of these programs are to help students who are either first-generation college students or from low-income families go to college and be successful,” says Reggie Jean, program director for Upward Bound. “It’s a chance for them to be on a college campus and have mentors and instructors help them with their classes and homework.” 

Students in the Upward Bound Math Science program get additional support and mentoring from STEM faculty across BU. According to CASS Executive Director Mike Dennehy, students are more likely to pursue STEM majors in college if they receive mentoring and support beforehand. “A significant number of Upward Bound Math Science students do go on to get STEM degrees as undergrads,” he says.

Upward Bound’s mission is rooted in a long-standing commitment to social justice and equity. Dennehy points to the program’s beginnings during the civil rights movement in the early 1960s. “Education, particularly post-secondary education, is a civil right,” he says. “Being a Boston public school grad that went to BU myself, I know it can be a hard transition. Programs that help bridge that gap between a student’s high school experience and what they can expect when they go to college help level the playing field.” 

All Upward Bound students also participate in a summer program, during which they stay on campus for six weeks and get firsthand experience of university life. The residential summer program helps them prepare for the transition to college. 

“Upward Bound’s goal is to front-load some of that preparation so that when students go to college, they can have some success,” Jean adds. “Upward Bound programming and staff provide advice and insights so students can mitigate certain roadblocks and increase their likelihood for success.”