Pictured L to R: Upward Bound program participants Laila Robison from Senior High School and Dayvany Whiteman Runs-Him from Hardin High School.

MSUB to Receive $1.9M Upward Bound Grant from US Dept of Education

June 13, 2022

from MSU Billings Media Release

To support low-income students seeking to become the first in their families to earn a degree, the U.S. Department of Education announced that Montana State University Billings will receive an Upward Bound grant of $1,954,630. Continuously funded for more than 30 years, Upward Bound has served more than 2,300 students, 94 percent of which graduated from high school, and of those graduating high school nearly a thousand have successfully completed post-secondary education programs. 

Upward Bound programs provide high school students instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science, and foreign language during the school year and a six-week, campus-based summer experience. Upward Bound also provides intensive mentoring and support for students as they prepare for college entrance exams and tackle admission applications, financial aid packages, and scholarship forms. The funds awarded to MSUB are available to qualifying students from Hardin, Lockwood, Senior, West, and Skyview high schools. 

“The work done by Upward Bound at MSU Billings is valuable not only to participants but also the community as a whole,” said Sara D. Whittle, director of Upward Bound and Talent Search TRIO programs at MSU Billings. Whittle adds that higher college completion rates mean lower unemployment rates, and average earnings among graduates are $22,000 higher annually and $1 million higher over a lifetime, thus increasing taxable wages. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86% of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In FY21, more than 70,000 students participated in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects throughout the United States and its territories.

Kayla Taylor, a former program participant at West High School and MSUB alumna, and current Outreach Advisor for the MSUB Upward Bound program shares that “because of the amazing Upward Bound staff at West High School, high school felt like a haven. When I chose to pursue a master’s degree, it was the memory of my own TRIO experiences that led me to select school counseling as my major. As a low-income and first-generation college graduate, I have always wanted to provide the same support that I received from TRIO to other students like me.”

MSU Billings Chancellor Stefani Hicswa, a first-generation college student herself, emphasizes the importance of these programs. “They are crucial to developing students’ knowledge and skills in college preparation and college success and provides them with a strong and continuous support system.”

Learn more about the MSUB Upward Bound Program and the National Upward Bound Program.

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