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CSB receives $1.4 million grant to fund Upward Bound program for five years at CSB and SJU

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May 30, 2012

The College of Saint Benedict has received a $1,439,405 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund the Upward Bound program at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University.

The program will be funded at $287,881 per year for five years starting Sept. 1, 2012, and will serve 64 high school students each year.

CSB was one of 20 Minnesota colleges and universities to receive grants. Overall, 780 programs were funded across the country, which was a drop of 18 percent or 171 programs from the previous round of funding.

"It was a huge relief to find out that we had been re-funded," said Jennifer Whitehead, director of the Upward Bound program at CSB and SJU. "It was a very nerve-racking wait."

Upward Bound is one of a cluster of programs referred to as TRIO, which were established by the federal Higher Education Act of 1965. The goal of the program is to create opportunities for high school students to attend college, with two-thirds of those students coming from low-income families or whose parents did not attend college.

The program began at CSB and SJU in 1995, and has served 325 students. The students come from four "target" high schools - St. Cloud Technical, St. Cloud Apollo, Sauk Rapids-Rice and Willmar, with additional students coming from Rocori and Sartell high schools.

Upward Bound operates during both the academic year and the summer months. During the academic year, the program consists of three components.

"The biggest thing we do is our after-school tutoring program, one day a week at each school site," Whitehead said. Students from both CSB and SJU serve as tutors in the program, working with individual high school students on homework, preparing for the ACT test, reading their essays or helping them with applications for college admission and scholarships. "It's also being a role model and building those relationships with the students," Whitehead said.

Program advisers Hien Dang and Shelley Gemza also visit the schools several times a week. "They're focusing on student goals, so they're talking about homework and any other issues that may be going on," Whitehead said.

Finally, there are five Saturday sessions held beginning in September and running every other month. Students are bused from their high schools and conduct service projects, volunteer at organizations such as Kids Against Hunger or attend a cultural event.

This summer's program is expected to have 38 students and runs from June 10 to July 26, with a week off around July 4 (the number of students varies each summer). They take classes taught by high school teachers and a CSB and SJU faculty member and are on campus from Sunday night through Friday afternoon each week. Each Wednesday, a field trip is held, typically to college campuses or to attend cultural or sports events.

"The unique thing about the program is that the goal is to get them to college, though not necessarily here (to CSB or SJU)," Whitehead said. "If a student is in our program as a ninth-grader, they're going to see a lot of colleges by the time they graduate (from the program), and those are two-year and four-year, public and private and large and small colleges. The idea is really to get the student connected with a college that fits their needs and wants."

Graduates of the program in spring 2011 are currently attending CSB, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, the University of Minnesota-Morris, the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.