The IUP Upward Bound Math and Science program has received $248,000 in funding, with projected funding over five years of $1.24 million, from the U.S. Department of Education.

IUP is one of only 109 programs nationally and two in Pennsylvania to have been awarded funding. More than 600 programs have applied.

Upward Bound Math and Science is designed to strengthen the math and science skills of high school students who are economically disadvantaged and have the potential to be first-generation college students, and to encourage them to pursue postsecondary education programs that lead to careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Since the IUP program opened its doors in 2008, 99 students from Indiana County have participated; 65 percent have enrolled in an institution of higher education, and 40 percent have been accepted for study at IUP.

“IUP is committed to its outreach mission," said President Michael Driscoll, "and part of that mission is helping students of this region to reach their educational goals and be competitive in the job market with strong math, technology and science skills through programs like Upward Bound."

The grant proposal was developed by Calvin Masilela, professor of geography and regional planning and director of IUP TRIO programs, which include UBMS and the McNair Scholars Program, and Hilary Staples, assistant director of the McNair program, which promotes entry into graduate school for low-income, first-generation college students and minority students.

“Receiving funding for the Upward Bound Math and Science program for another five years means that students from the county school districts, particularly our partner schools (Homer-Center, Marion Center, Penns Manor, Purchase Line and United) will have excellent services to prepare them for postsecondary enrollment and careers,” Masilela said.

Activities provided to the students include intensive instruction in mathematics, science and technology by IUP faculty members and local high school teachers over a six-week period in the summer. This includes a hands-on electro-optics camp at IUP's Northpointe campus. In addition, IUP hosts students for one Saturday per month for substantive workshops, tutoring, mentoring, and community service activities. The students also receive a small stipend while they participate in the program.

“We have seen firsthand how the IUP Upward Bound Math and Science program benefits student participants, target schools, IUP and the region through continuous assessment of academic and personal needs, cultural enrichment, mentoring, tutoring, PSAT and SAT/ACT test preparation, and FAFSA (financial aid forms) assistance that help these students to create a roadmap to college admission,” Staples said.

According to the Council for Opportunity in Education, students who participate in precollege programs, such as Upward Bound, are four times more likely to earn a baccalaureate degree than students from similar backgrounds who do not participate.

Upward Bound Math and Science is one of the seven federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965 and reauthorized in 2008 to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and become active citizens.