Upward Bound receives grant renewal from TRIO


Upward Bound has received a five-year renewal grant from TRIO to continue its work on the IUPUI campus. Upward Bound provides low-income, first-generation potential college students with quality instruction and academic support to ensure their successful completion of a bachelor’s degree. 

One of the main goals of the program is to strengthen the academic skills of high school students and expose them to new social and cultural learning experiences. The program provides academic skill instruction in math, science, and language arts, as well as tutoring and academic counseling for all participants. IUPUI has partnered with local high schools, including Arsenal Technical, Warren Central, Crispus Attucks, Shortridge, and George Washington.  

Upward Bound has existed on the IUPUI campus since 1995, and with the grant renewal, the program will continue to thrive in the Indianapolis community for another five years.  

Students pose on Upward Bound College Signing Day 2022.

IUPUI was named as a recipient of the highly competitive $3.3 million renewal grant from TRIO in May 2022. The grant went into effect on September 1, 2022, and will continue until August 31, 2027.  

The grant money allows Upward Bound to fund qualifying high school students to take colleges classes at IUPUI, prep for the SAT, attend college visits, receive tutoring, take supplemental classes, access advising/coaching, and participate in cultural experiences.

"There are never any guarantees that those grants will be renewed because they are very competitive grants that institutions apply for all throughout the country," Eric Williams, senior executive director of educational equity programs, said. "Our program has been very successful here at IUPUI for a number of years and that's due to the staff that has been part of that program, but nevertheless, there's still no guarantee that it is going to be renewed. We were very happy the program was able to get renewed for this next cycle."

Assistant director of Student Support Services, LaTessa McClendon, is an alumna of the Upward Bound Program. As a student at Arsenal Technical High School, she participated in the program and can uniquely speak on the impact from both a staff and student perspective.

"There was tremendous support every step of the way," McClendon said. "Being able to have someone there to coach you through the process of financial aid, the applications, and the college tours, there was so much that we were exposed to that helped. By the time I went to college, I felt more comfortable, I felt more prepared, I felt empowered to be able to use the resources. It was a very, very helpful program."

Roxanne Gregg, former director of the TRIO Upward Bound program at IUPUI, led the application efforts for the grant, which resulted in perfect scores in all of the categories and ultimately award renewal. Passing the torch on to others, Gregg reflected on one of her favorite experiences shared with IUPUI Upward Bound students over the years: their trip to New York City last year. 

“I love being able to expose students to new opportunities, whether it is navigating the NY subway, flying for the first time, exploring the Statue of Liberty, or experiencing a Broadway play, and letting students know that there is so much more in the world for them to explore,” Gregg said. 

That New York City trip Gregg and others remember fondly was just one of the opportunities the IUPUI Upward Bound team was able to offer their students because of previous funding from the TRIO grant. 

Steven Overbey, who teaches the COMM-R 110 Fundamentals of Speech course as part of the Upward Bound curriculum, expressed his love for the program.  

“My favorite part of Upward Bound is to help students successfully complete a challenging required course for IUPUI credit or a transferable credit to other colleges or universities,” Overbey said. “It has also been rewarding to see many of the Upward Bound students continue their education at IUPUI.” 

Williams, McClendon, and Overbey all shared how thrilled they are that the program will be continuing at IUPUI. 

Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer and acting associate vice chancellor for undergraduate education, also expressed her excitement for the program to continue. 

“Thanks to TRIO grant funding and the hard work of all involved, the Upward Bound program at IUPUI has been able to engage and empower high school students in the Indianapolis community to prepare them for higher education,” Johnson said. “We look forward to seeing the program continue to grow so we can persist in efforts to support local students and foster student success.” 

Students at the 2022 Upward Bound Graduation Ceremony.

For more information, contact the Division of Undergraduate Education Office of Communications at duecomm@iupui.edu.