Wayne State University College of Education receives nearly $1.5M to support its Upward Bound program for another five years

The Wayne State University College of Education was awarded nearly $1.5 million to continue the COE Upward Bound program. Funds will be used to support 60 students from two high schools in Southwest Detroit — Western International High School and Cesar Chavez Academy High School — for the next five years. 

Begun in 1964, Upward Bound is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The pre-college program is designed to bridge the gap between high school and college by helping students from under-resourced communities overcome barriers to post-secondary enrollment, adjustment and graduation. Services provided through the program are free to participating students and their families. Wayne State hosts two of the more than 950 Upward Bound programs nationwide.

head shot of Sandra Gonzales
Sandra Gonzales, Ed.D.

“Upward Bound is a unique initiative because it provides long-term, grade-level appropriate wrap-around services to students and their families,” said Sandra M. Gonzales, associate professor of bilingual/bicultural education in the college and principal investigator, faculty liaison and curricular consultant for the COE Upward Bound program. “The goal is to help ensure participants complete high school and college successfully. We are excited about the opportunity to continue to serve and support Southwest Detroit students as they pursue their dreams of earning a college degree.”

Students who meet U.S. Department of Education income guidelines, are potential first-generation college students and/or struggle academically are recruited as rising ninth graders. They must agree to participate in the program from ninth grade through college graduation, an eight-to-10-year commitment.

Housed in the college’s Division of Teacher Education, the COE Upward Bound offers many benefits to students and families. During the school year, students participate in an afterschool component called the Upward Bound Club. They obtain assistance with homework and participate in academic skill-building activities, soft skills training and career exploration workshops as well as SAT standardized test preparation. Students also complete two college campus tours, participate in cultural enrichment activities and receive opportunities to attend leadership conferences.

photo of COE Upward Bound participants at Belle Isle
COE Upward Bound participants visited Belle Isle

During the summer, students participate in a six-week academic enrichment program on Wayne State’s main campus. Students take courses in laboratory sciences, math, language arts and a heritage language taught by certified teachers who help prepare them for the coming school year. Rising seniors learn valuable professional and networking skills by participating in a paid internship in their area of career interest. Students also tour college campuses, interact with peer advisors, visit museums and libraries and attend theatre, music and dance performances. The summer program culminates with an out-of-state field trip that further exposes students to post-secondary and other opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach.

High school seniors prepare for college during Senior Seminar, a series of weekly meetings during which students and their families focus on college enrollment, scholarship applications, resume writing and FAFSA completion. The purpose is to ensure students are admitted to and enroll in a college of their choice.

“While some COE Upward Bound students choose to attend Wayne State, participants can attend any college or university they choose,” said Gonzales. “The staff supports and monitors students wherever they go and assists them as often as needed to ensure their academic success and graduation.”

photo of COE Upward Bound staff
COE Upward Bound staff members Calandrino, Lopez, and Torres

The Upward Bound program has three full-time staff members: Program Director Ana H. Calandrino, Program Assistant Jonelle Lopez and Secretary Laura Torres.

“Our staff is bilingual and biliterate in English and Spanish,” said Gonzales. “This enhances access for our emergent bilingual students and families and allows them to engage more deeply with the program and services.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 59% of Hispanic first-time, full-time students at four-year institutions graduate within six years as compared to 67% of white students.

Calandrino said the COE Upward Bound program not only positively affects students’ lives but can also have a lasting impact on their families, schools and communities.

“The COE Upward Bound program provides love, academic and social support, and resources to students who are reported to be the least likely to attend and graduate from a postsecondary institution,” said Calandrino. “The benefits of the program can be seen for generations because students use the knowledge and skills they develop in the program to become leaders within their communities and throughout the state. Their success demonstrates how education can improve economic and social mobility and encourages family and friends to consider college.”

COE Upward Bound participantsGonzales believes the services and support students receive through COE Upward Bound can help increase the number of students from the two partner high schools who earn college degrees. She said despite the long-term commitment, the program averages a three-year retention rate of 95%. Participants remain actively engaged in the program from ninth grade through high school graduation, and 100% graduate from high school on time. According to the program’s most recent three-year average, 77% of participants enroll in college the first semester following high school graduation, up from a 22% average when the program was initially funded in 2017.

“The services provided by Upward Bound have a significant impact on the students and families in the program, particularly as it relates to the number of students who attend college,” said Gonzales. “Upward Bound works!”

For more information about the Upward Bound program and how to apply, visit education.wayne.edu/upward-bound.

Upward Bound is 100% funded by the U.S. Department of Education ($1,488,000) award number P047A221511.

Faculty spotlight

← Back to listing