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RIC’s Upward Bound college prep program to receive $622k  

From left are Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline, Upward Bound Student Kevin Argueta, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, RIC student Sandy Avila, Upward Bound Director Mariam Boyajian and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. (Photo: Gene St. Pierre '77)

From left are Congressmen James Langevin and David Cicilline, Upward Bound Student Kevin Argueta, RIC President Nancy Carriuolo, RIC student Sandy Avila, Upward Bound Director Mariam Boyajian and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. (Photo: Gene St. Pierre '77)
Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo was joined by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline to announce the college will be receiving over $622,000 in federal funding for its Upward Bound program.

Photo gallery

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo addresses ceremony attendees, including Congressman David Cicilline, left, and James Langevin.
At the event, the state’s congressional delegation also vowed to continue working to prevent student loan interest rates, currently at 3.4 percent, from doubling to 6.8 percent on July 1.

The U.S. Department of Education, which administers Upward Bound, notified RIC that “it is anticipated that the grant will be for a total of five years,” meaning the college could receive as much as $3.1 million through 2017, pending annual appropriations by Congress.

The Upward Bound program helps low-income high school students with the potential to become first-generation college students develop the skills and motivation necessary to graduate from high school and enter and complete a post-secondary education. The program offers comprehensive services, including college preparation courses, tutoring, academic counseling and advising, and guidance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications.

RIC President Nancy Carriuolo said that the college was proud to be home to one of the longest standing Upward Bound programs, “one of the best in the nation.” Added Carriuolo: “A goal of the college’s strategic plan is to support the state’s economy by reaching out to community partners. This morning’s announcement of funding for Upward Bound at RIC is central, therefore, to the spirit and the purposes of the college.”

She also noted that award-winning actress Viola Davis, a RIC grad, and her sister Deloris Davis Grant, are alums of the Upward Bound program.


Congressman James Langevin.

Senator Jack Reed
“No one gets through life without a little help and support along the way,” said Congressman Langevin, who wrote to the Education Department in support of RIC’s application. “It’s our responsibility to empower [students] to invest in their education,” said Langevin, a 1990 graduate of RIC who received an honorary degree from the college in 2004.

Senator Reed, stated, “One of the key issues that we have to face as a nation is the high school graduation rate.” Upward Bound, he said, plays an important role in helping students complete their secondary education and prepare for college.

Senator Whitehouse described Upward Bound as a program that “works to make sure Rhode Island students get a fair shot at pursuing higher education.”


Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

Upward Bound Director Mariam Boyajian
Highlighting the value of a college education, Congressman David Cicilline cited a report stating that well over half the jobs that will be created will require at least some post-secondary education. In a release, Cicilline said, “RIC’s Upward Bound program equips young men and women with the tools they need to compete in this economy and I know these federal resources will help support their efforts.”

Mariam Z. Boyajian, director RIC Upward, said the new funding will ensure that future generations of at-risk students have the opportunity to participate in an educational program that has been successful at guiding and motivating young people since 1966.

“Everything we do connects the past to the present to the future,” Boyajian said.


Senator Jack Reed, center, talks with students Kevin Argueta and Sandy Avila.
Kevin Argueta, a 16-year-old student at Shea High School in Pawtucket, and Sandy Avila, a 23-year-old RIC student, told the audience of the value of an Upward Bound education. Avila, a 2007 Upward Bound graduate, is a nursing and psychology major who will graduate from RIC in 2013. She said of Upward Bound: “They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

The Upward Bound program began at RIC in 1966, and was one of the first of its kind in the nation. The program has successful track record working with low-income, first-generation students from six area high schools: Central, Hope, and Mt. Pleasant High Schools in Providence, Central Falls High School, East Providence High School, and Shea High School in Pawtucket.

In its most recent annual performance report, Rhode Island College noted that graduates of Upward Bound have a 100 percent high school graduation rate, a post-secondary enrollment rate of 98.6 percent, and a post-secondary retention/graduation rate of 76.5 percent.