The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Upward Bound at UTC a grant which exceeds $302,000, an increase of $15,000 more than the previous award. The grant is expected to be renewed annually for five years.
Students who are low income, potential first-generation college students at Brainerd, East Ridge, Howard, and Red Bank high schools are served by the Upward Bound program at UTC. This program enriches the lives of participants while it prepares them for college. The program introduces students to learning opportunities in their communities and helps create cooperative relationships with parents or guardians, according to Belinda Brownlee, director of Upward Bound.
“The longer a child is exposed to poverty and adverse situations in their environment, the risk of failure increases,” Ms. Brownlee explains. “The transition from middle to high school can be difficult for a student whose lifestyle is normal; by the same token, it can be devastating for a student who has lived most of their life in poverty. Many students, while they are in middle school, do not learn or retain the basic skills necessary to succeed in math and English. As a result, their standardized test scores are low and this begins the downward spiral in their academics and their lack of enrollment in more rigorous coursework.”
With the support of the Upward Bound Program and partnerships with community based programs, Ms. Brownlee insists “it is possible to change the course of their destiny.” Upward Bound’s goals are to create opportunities for participants to appreciate and value themselves; produce positive and safe learning environments, and provide social and cultural opportunities for student participants.
Upward Bound provides activities in the areas of basic skills, oral and written communications and critical thinking to improve the unaddressed academic and social needs of its participants.
“The services and activities provided by the program will enable students to become resilient, build their self-confidence, and help them see the importance of breaking the cycle of poverty and reaching toward attaining a postsecondary education,” Ms. Brownlee said.
Ms. Brownlee, a Howard High alumna, joined the Center for Community Career Education and Upward Bound staff at UTC in 2010.
“She brings with her many years of experience with Upward Bound and a genuine concern about the quality of her project and the outcomes her students achieve,” said Sandy Cole, executive director, Center for Community Career Education.
In 2018, Upward Bound will celebrate its 50th anniversary at UTC.