A new start for Upward Bound

A University program that helped low-income students prepare for college is beginning to recover from losing funding last June after receiving a $3.5 million grant from the federal government.

Upward Bound started at USF in 1966. It is a federal program that helps high school students prepare for the college experience and application process. Students are chosen from low-income families, in which neither parent has a college education. Participants at USF are selected from applications received from area high schools.

First generation students come to the USF campus for six weeks during the summer. The students stay in the residence halls on campus and are provided meals. They attend classes on subjects ranging from English to science to college test preparation.

Students also receive one-on-one counseling regarding college applications, career choices and financial aid. The students continue to receive tutoring throughout the school year on Saturdays and receive mentoring throughout college.

“The program helps get them admitted and then prepares them for college. Then we continue to follow their progress and offer them support services,” said Sharman Pride-McRae, director of the program.

The renewed funding from the federal government will allow the program to continue for the next four years. USF’s program is the largest in Florida and is one of the largest in the nation.

Funding was cancelled last June by the federal government for reasons ranging from the school not explaining goals well enough to not showing exact reasons for funding, said Pride-McRae.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor was a main spokewoman for bringing back the funding and everyone helped as much as they could, said Pride-McRae.

“Representative Castor and the community really joined together to fight for the program,” she said. “I tried to help by walking, protesting and writing letters. Whatever was needed I was willing to do.”

Pride-McRae is the new director of Upward Bound and also has a close connection with the program. Her father, Richard Pride, was the second director of the program. He served as director from 1969 until 1996. Pride-McRae will continue her father’s efforts as she works to rebuild the program.

“It really is like starting all over; we thought the program had been lost,” said Pride-McRae.

Marcus Glover, a counselor for Student Support Services at USF, participated in Upward Bound when he was in high school. He continued on to graduate from USF with a bachelor’s degree and earned his master’s degree from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. He is now working toward his doctorate at USF, majoring in Higher Education and Advising.

“If it wasn’t for Upward Bound, I wouldn’t have gone to USF – I wouldn’t have gone to school at all,” Glover said. “The program helped me get out of a rough neighborhood and gave me the tutoring to succeed.”

Glover was upset, he said, when funding was dropped last year because he knew how much the program was helping students.

“The program really uplifts students because for a lot of them there is no support at home,” he said. “This program deserves attention.”

According to Upward Bound, USF’s program has helped more than 3,000 participants since 1966 and of those, 95 percent go to college and at least 78 percent receive their bachelor’s degree.