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HCC awarded $1.25 million federal grant to start Upward Bound program

Program focuses on those who would be first-generation college-bound students

May 28, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Community College received a $1.25 million, five-year federal grant to start an Upward Bound college-prep program to help eligible Washington County Public Schools students who would be among the first generation of their families to go to college, a college official said.

“I have personally seen other students go through other TRIO programs (and) graduate who would not have otherwise graduated,” said Anne Shepard, HCC’s director of grants development.

HCC has offered similar federal programs that were aimed at college students and, like Upward Bound, helped students through tutoring, and provided students with information about transferring to a four-year college, Shepard said.

TRIO is not an acronym. The federal government began referring to these programs as the TRIO programs in the late 1960s because, at the time, there were only three programs, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s website for the programs.

Upward Bound will focus on getting participating high school students ready for college, including providing tutoring assistance and educating students about college options and financing, officials said. The program is free for students, Shepard said.

“It’s all about the students,” Shepard said.

While HCC is the recipient of the grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the community college is working on the program with Washington County Public Schools, Shepard said.

The program will begin next school year and targets eligible students at Hancock, North Hagerstown, South Hagerstown and Williamsport high schools, Shepard said.

With limited funding, organizers couldn’t involve every high school and school system officials knew the selected schools would have first-generation college students, said Clyde Harrell, the school system’s director for curriculum and instruction.

The program will have a part-time coach at each of the four participating high schools during the school year; Saturday academies at HCC or a public school; and a summer program at the community college, Shepard said.

Seventy students are expected to be invited to apply to the program, Harrell and Shepard said. Those students are expected to be from more than one high school grade level, Shepard said. The program is to have 70 students a year so new students would join the program as others graduate high school or exit the program, Shepard said.

Program officials will consider referrals and recommendations from teachers and community members in choosing which students to invite to apply, Harrell said.

Shepard said she hoped the invitations to apply would be sent to students this summer. Organizers learned they received the grant earlier this month and are still working out program details.

A teacher at each of the participating high schools would take on the role of part-time Upward Bound coach at that school, Harrell said.

The coaches will support the students in getting ready for college, including tutoring them after school, monitoring their academic progress and supporting them during Saturday workshops, Harrell said.

At Saturday workshops, students will receive help with study skills, career planning, and they will learn about résumees, internships, and placement tests students might need to take to determine at what level of college course work they will start, Shepard said.

The schedule being considered for the Saturday academies during the school year is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Shepard said.

The schedule under consideration for the summer program, which would begin during the summer of 2013, is 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays for seven and a half weeks, she said.

The summer program would include academic skill building, and college and career exploration, Shepard said.

Things students will likely do include math labs, reading and writing workshops, learning about financial aid for college, and conducting self-assessments to determine what careers or majors best suit them, Shepard said.

HCC will hire two people to help run the Upward Bound program, Shepard said.

The grant provides $250,000 a year for five years, Shepard said. Receiving grant payments after the first year is conditional upon the program meeting performance goals, she said.

Shepard said there might be field trips to potential employers, colleges or cultural events, but that was not certain.

Washington County Public Schools will provide in-kind bus transportation and food services for the Saturday and summer sessions, Harrell said. The school system also will provide meeting space at schools for some Saturday sessions and transportation for field trips, he said.

HCC also will provide in-kind contributions, including overhead expenses for meeting and office space, and academic materials for students, Shepard said.

Participating students are not obligated to attend HCC after graduating from high school, and could choose to attend another postsecondary school, Shepard said.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, any project assisted through the Upward Bound program must provide tutoring to help students complete their courses; help students with course selection in high school and postsecondary education; help students prepare for college-entrance exams and complete college admission applications; provide information about financial aid and scholarship resources for college; and provide education or counseling services to help improve students’ or parents’ economic and financial literacy, including planning for postsecondary education.

The program also must provide guidance and assistance to participating students who are re-entering high school after dropping out, according to www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/faq.html.

Any Upward Bound program receiving federal funds for at least two years, like the local one, must include in its core curriculum instruction in math through precalculus, laboratory science, foreign language, composition and literature, according to the federal website.

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