Upward Bound, a pre-college program helping students develop the skills and motivation needed to be successful in college and beyond, just received a $330,000 grant for scholarships and college support, according to Heba Griffiths, Interim Associate Dean of Student Life & Upward Bound Director.
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Upward Bound, a pre-college program helping students develop the skills and motivation needed to be successful in college and beyond, just received a $330,000 grant for scholarships and college support, according to Heba Griffiths, Interim Associate Dean of Student Life & Upward Bound Director.

The Upward Bound program supports students from low-income and/or first generation four-year college scholars in developing strategies for attending college and navigating the tricky tasks involved with college applications and applying for scholarships starting in high school.

“Think of it as family,” Juan Pablo Careon, Trio Coordinator for Upward Bound Math & Science said. “It’s great to give students this opportunity and see them come back.”

Upward Bound received the funds from The California Community Foundation, which contributed $110,000, and the College Access Foundation of California, which gave $220,000. The College Access Foundation of California has been funding Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science since 2010. And this year, when the program realized they need more money, they reached out to The California Community Foundation.

Upward Bound grants are federal fund grants that must be reapplied for every five years. This year both Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math & Science re-applied for grants previously received as well as wrote for second grants that they received to help with students in the El Monte Unified School District. This is the only Upward Bound program in California that receive their grants directly, meaning students don’t have to go through a second source to apply for the scholarship money.

Griffiths is an upward bound alumni and she came back to work for the program to give back to the community and to help improve the lives of the students in the program.

In years past, Upward Bound had only enough resources to help students in high school, but with these grants the program will have more flexibility in supporting students. As budget cuts increased, the program lost funding so receiving this grant “was a breath of fresh air,” Griffths said.

The grant will mostly be used for scholarships for students in their first and second years in college, as well as advising. The rest is used to hire an alumni advisor/scholarship specialist to help work with the students in college to insure retention and graduation. This is to help with the mandate by the Department of Education, which requires the students to graduate from college.

“If they can complete their first two year successfully, they’re more likely to graduate from college,” Careon said.

Applying for these scholarships can be an intense process because students who were involved in the program their senior year don’t automatically receive a scholarship. Students must apply for the scholarship and then applications are rated by staff and faculty. The amount a student receives depends on their need and the cost of attendance. Students must also demonstrate they are also applying to at least three other scholarships.

“They have to understand this is just not going to be handed to them,” Griffiths said. “We also want them to be comfortable with the idea of applying for scholarships.”

Jazmine Trochez has been in Upward Bound since her sophomore year at Pasadena High School (PHS) and will receive a scholarship from the grant. She hopes to transfer to a 4-year university in Northern California to study psychology and eventually come back to work for Upward Bound.

“Upward Bound was the biggest influence in my life,” Trochez said. “I initially didn’t want to join because my brothers were in it, but it made me see things in a different way.”

Milly Correa is another recipient of a scholarship from the grant and has been involved in the program since 2011 while attending PHS. Throughout high school Correa was determined to go to college and knew she would have to work hard to achieve her goals.

“I saw this as a resource to help me get through the [college] application process,” said Correa. “It’s the main reason I joined the program.”

Correa is now pursuing a degree in graphic design and hopes to transfer to Arts Center to finish her degree.

“Receiving the scholarship is great and shows me I’m doing well,” Coarrea said.

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