Upward Bound & Upward Bound Math Science Celebrate BU Anniversaries this Summer

Upward Bound first came to Boston University the summer of 1990. During each of the 29 summers since, the program has provided academic support to hundreds of low-income and first-generation college-bound students.

Now in its 30th year at BU, the program (which BU Wheelock’s College Access and Student Success office administers, and which receives federal funding as a TRIO program) serves roughly 90 students each summer. Participants are recruited from five local high schools (Brighton High School, Community Academy of Science and Health, The English High School, Margarita Muñiz Academy, and Snowden International High School at Copley) and from Boston’s Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury neighborhoods.

Students who participate in Upward Bound remain with the program until their graduation from high school. Program services, which are located on campus at BU to provide students with access to University resources, include an academically intensive six-week summer residential program and an after-school program of tutoring and academic courses that runs during the school year. The program is free and students are paid a small stipend for their participation.

Twelve years ago, BU began hosting an expanded version of the program, titled Upward Bound Math/Science (UBMS), which serves 50 students who have specifically expressed interest in studying science, technology, engineering, or mathematics.

Reggie Jean, a BU alum and staff person, directs both Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science. He reflected on this summer’s anniversary, nothing that “each summer the programming of Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science includes having first-generation college potential students and students who meet income eligibility guidelines take a rigorous course load for academic preparation, take part in enrichment activities for social-emotional learning, and to provide them with services from caring mentors and staff.”

“Hopefully, the impact is that we move all the students closer to being more competitive to be able to get into college and be more holistically prepared to be successful in college,” Mr. Jean continued. “Along with our federal funding, the support from BU and BU Wheelock helps to put the Upward Bound programs in a better position to do that each year.”

Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science students maintain intensive schedules, taking courses in math, science, writing, and literature, while preparing for standardized tests. They also enroll in courses that focus on life skills. This summer students are learning about personal finance. Together, they’re reading Peter Lynch’s Learn to Earn: a Beginner’s Guide to the Basics and Investing and Business, studying budgeting skills, and preparing stock portfolios which they will present as part of a competition at the end of the summer.

Upward Bound Math/Science students are working on a project honoring of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing that will culminate in July. Working with the theme of “engineering & exploration,” students are designing and launching their own bottle rockets.

“We want UBMS students to become stronger and confident scientists and engineers” says Dr. Nicole Sjoblom, the STEM Activities Coordinator for Upward Bound Math/Science. “Students are exposed to a variety of STEM fields through our programming in classrooms, labs, internships, and smaller group settings […] It is our goal that UBMS students, as well as community partners, have an impactful experience as part of our program.”

Michael DennehyExecutive Director of College Access and Student Success at BU Wheelock, emphasizes the importance of programs like Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science, pointing out the inequities that persist in college enrollment are largely based upon family income.

A 2016 report by the Pell Institute found that in 2014 students from the bottom quartile in family income enrolled in postsecondary education at a rate that is nearly half when compared with students from the top quartile in family income (45% versus 80%),” explains Dennehy. “Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science play a key role in addressing those inequities via partnership between the Federal Government, University and public school district. In 2014, 79% of Upward Bound and 92% of Upward Bound Math Science participants enrolled in a postsecondary education.”

Later this summer, Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math/Science students will take field trips to the Berkshires and to New York City. They’ll conclude the summer with an award ceremony and will look to do a 30th-anniversary celebration during the academic year, which is currently being planned by the program’s staff.

To learn more about Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science, click here. 

Grace Hagerty