CAC awarded $1.4M to help low-income students

Posted 6/13/22

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Central Arizona College will receive a federal Upward Bound grant of $1,488,000 to help more low-income students who would be the first members of …

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CAC awarded $1.4M to help low-income students


The U.S. Department of Education announced that Central Arizona College will receive a federal Upward Bound grant of $1,488,000 to help more low-income students who would be the first members of their families to earn degrees.

The grant would help prepare for college. This is CAC’s second Upward Bound grant, according to a press release.

One of the federal TRIO Programs, Upward Bound is an intensive intervention program that prepares students for higher education through various courses. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Upward Bound program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor's degree.

According to the release, many Upward Bound alumni have gone on to great success, among them Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis, correspondent for ABC News John Quiñones and Hall of Fame NBA player Patrick Ewing.

“I was a student that would have benefited from Upward Bound when I graduated from Coolidge High School. As a low-income, first-generation student myself, I am grateful that I get to help students and families navigate their journey through high school and post-secondary education,” stated April Ortega, director of the Upward Bound Program at CAC, in the release I am proud of all of my students that are dedicated to overcoming all the obstacles they have to face while trying to obtain their degree. Our paths may be a little more difficult, but we will work diligently to not only make ourselves proud, but our families and community proud as well,”

Campus-based Upward Bound programs provide students instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science and foreign language during the school year and the summer. Upward Bound also provides intensive mentoring and support for students as they prepare for college entrance exams and tackle admission applications, financial aid and scholarship forms. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86% of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In fiscal year 2021, more than 70,000 students enrolled in 966 Upward Bound TRIO projects in the United States, the release stated.

“Upward Bound programs put learners on the trajectory for college, careers, and success,” stated Jackie Elliott, CAC president. “Upward Bound programs are the great equalizer for under-resourced learners and provide those who may not necessarily see themselves going to college the opportunity to see the possibilities ahead for them.”

In 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act established Upward Bound as a pilot program in response to the War on Poverty. It was the first of seven federal “TRIO” programs to later be authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success; bolsters students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had; and helps remove obstacles preventing students from thriving academically.
“As systemic inequality and financial hardship discourage students from succeeding in college, TRIO programs like Upward Bound take on new importance because they continue to help students who are low-income and first-generation to earn college degrees,” stated Maureen Hoyler, president of the nonprofit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C.

The council is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities nationwide. As of 2021, more than 3,000 TRIO projects serve approximately 855,000 participants yearly. TRIO projects are in every state and territory in the nation.

Central Arizona College, CAC, grant