Rhode Island College Upward Bound Program's Beginnings

The national Upward Bound Programs were first created in 1965 through Congressional Legislation as a response to the civil rights movement. Funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, Upward Bound has survived through the years and is now one of the two most senior educational programs sponsored by the federal government. Following the success of the pilot projects, the number of Upward Bound programs expanded from 18 to 220 in 1966. Currently, more than 750 projects exist in the country.

Rhode Island College was one of the first public institutions of higher education to receive funding in 1966 to establish an Upward Bound program. The philosophy of the College's Upward Bound Program was first conceived by Dr. John A. Finger, an educator who believed that the nation should education "all of the children of all of the people." Three others joined Dr. Finger to create and administer the initial program offered at the College: Dr. Raymond W. Houghton, Dr. Maureen T. Lapan, and Dr. Thomas Lavery. They possessed the force of intellect, the professional integrity, the requisite perspiration, dedication, and most importantly, the compassion to see that ideal through to fruition. Thus, 52 students who "were not succeeding, had no seeming hope of going on, and whose parents met the poverty criteria" were enrolled into the first Upward Bound Class.

Rhode Island College Upward Bound Program – Summer 1968

From that first year to the present, Upward Bound has been a continuous presence on the campus of Rhode Island College, and while there have been changes made in the program, it has remained remarkably steady in funding and it has preserved the spirit of the "founders of the Program." It continues to be the only Upward Bound Program in the State, and currently 150 students participate each year.

Rhode Island College Upward Bound Program's Future

Rhode Island College Upward Bound Program – Summer 2008 – 40 year later

RIC receives four-year grant from U.S. Dept. of Education to continue Upward Bound (June 2007)

The United States Department of Education has selected Rhode Island College to receive a four-year grant to continue its Upward Bound program. Upward Bound has been a staple at RIC for 41 years.

The program had been a possible target for recent federal educational budget cuts.

The grant will provide $592,382 for the first year and will fund 150 students.

Upward Bound was created to help at-risk students from low-income families graduate from high school and become the first in their families to pursue higher education. RIC was among the first institutions in the country to host an Upward Bound program. There are now more than 750 in the United States. RIC's program is the only one in Rhode Island.

"I speak for all of Rhode Island College's past, present and future participants of Upward Bound in saying that we are most grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for extending the funds for the program for an additional four years." said RIC President John Nazarian.

Since 1966, more than 2,000 students from high schools with the highest dropout rates in the state have successfully completed the program and gone on to matriculate at some of the finest colleges and universities in the country.

"We are so pleased that this legacy of success will continue in Rhode Island," said Nazarian.

The high schools served by RIC's Upward Bound are Providence's Central, Hope, and Mt. Pleasant, as well as Shea in Pawtucket, Central Falls and East Providence.

Upward Bound offers students instruction in fundamental and advanced level courses, counseling, tutoring, academic support workshops, career development, work-study placement, student support services, and multi-cultural and social activities.

Students work cooperatively to improve critical thinking skills and become better learners. They are afforded ample assistance and guidance to meet the challenges of a high school curriculum.

The 12-month program runs September through June, and conducts a six-week academic/residential program on the RIC campus during the summer.

A recent study of Upward Bound graduates of the last seven years showed that 99 percent are accepted into programs of post-secondary education, 97 percent enroll, and 76 percent graduate.

"I am certain that the program will continue to be successful in its work with students who otherwise would have little or no hope of pursuing an education beyond the secondary level," said Mariam Z. Boyajian, director of RIC's Upward Bound program. "It is encouraging and gratifying to challenge students, hold them to high expectations, and prepare them for the higher educational opportunities that are possible for them."

Page last updated: Wednesday, September 21, 2011