College program offers new resources to low-income high schoolers

Upward Bound program returns
Upward Bound program returns
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 7:37 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Fisk University announced the return of a federally funded program that helps underserved high school students graduate and prepare for college.

Among several institutions, Fisk University was one of many selected for the grant award by the Department of Education for five years. According to the news release from Fisk, the university will partner with Nashville-area high schools to stem the rates of lagging academic performance of students from low-income backgrounds.

“This is truly great news for the entire Fisk University community,” said Fisk University President Dr. Vann R. Newkirk, Sr. “Considering the fact that Fisk University has not operated an Upward Bound program over the last two decades, this is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The program receives $1.4 million that will be used over the next five years. It’s been 25 years since the university participated in the program. They were one of only 17 colleges participating in the pilot Upward Bound program in 1965.

Fisk University Alum, Frank Simmons, was a part of the program when he attended high school in Florida.

“My family simply did not have the resources or the assets that would have allowed me to go to college without some type of aid,” said Simmons.

Simmons says going through this program propelled him to attend Fisk University.

“I was asked to participate in the Upward Bound Program that allowed me access to go on the campus of FAMU during the summer and take some college courses and be exposed to college life,” said Simmons.

Upward Bound proposal developer and special assistant Dr. Kenneth Jones spearheads the program that will begin in Sep. 2022. During a Zoom interview, Jones shared the different facets of the program and how it will benefit eligible high school students.

“Academic advising, and college entrance exam preparation, parental support, financial aid planning, and financial literacy,” said Jones.

Jones believes the program will also increase graduation success. They will work with more than two dozen students at Antioch High School.

“We will be working with 60 high school students at any one time. But I can tell you if we can graduate anywhere near those 60 students after they have been in our program, that says a lot,” said Jones.

An Alum and Trustee Board Member of Fisk University, Simmons, believes this program’s comeback will benefit as many high school students as it was for him.

“I immediately called the President of the university and said this is probably the most dynamic thing we could have done in a long time because it allows kids who may not ever have an opportunity to go to college to be exposed to the concept of going and furthering their education,” said Simmons.

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