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Press Release

Upward Bound Program Awarded New Five-Year Federal Grant

Contact: Diego Abeloos

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly’s Upward Bound program recently received a new five-year federal grant totaling $2.3 million that will help fund the program through the 2026-27 academic year.

The five-year grant will award more than $460,000 annually to the program, representing a $62,000 annual increase to its previous federal grant award.

The pre-college outreach program provides a variety of services to students with historically excluded backgrounds at four local high schools — Nipomo, Ernest Righetti, Pioneer Valley and Santa Maria. Upward Bound’s services include after-school workshops, peer tutoring, academic advising, cultural and educational field trips, and a six-week residential Summer Academy on Cal Poly’s campus for 10th through 12th grade students.

“I’m grateful for this new five-year award and the support it provides local students who may think college is out of reach,” said Keith Humphrey, Cal Poly’s vice president for student affairs. “This grant will not only open up possibilities for many students, it will also serve as an economic engine for the Central Coast by producing more college-educated individuals that our economy needs right now.”

Debi Hill, associate vice president of equity and transition programs for student affairs, added: “This program provides personal support, academic advising, workshops and educational field trips for students who are the first in their families to attend college. Students report that the Summer Academy, which offers high school students a ‘college-like’ experience, is a highlight they look forward to each year.”

The program’s overarching mission is to increase the rate of high school students completing their secondary education and enrolling in and graduating from higher education institutions.

Melissa Giddens, who serves as director for Upward Bound, noted that 26 of the 27 local senior high school students enrolled in the program during the 2021-22 academic year will attend higher education institutions this fall. Of those, 60% will attend four-year institutions, with the remaining students attending local community colleges.

Five of those students, she added, will attend Cal Poly when fall quarter begins Sept. 19.

“I’m so proud of our 2022 senior class because they overcame many obstacles, including graduating from high school during the pandemic,” Giddens said. “I’m so impressed with their determination and hard work and cannot wait to see them around campus this year.”

With a new federal grant secured, Giddens said she’s eager to make an even bigger impact on local students through Upward Bound.

“We have a larger 2023 senior class, and I know they are excited to get started on their college applications,” she said. “I am confident that this cohort of students will achieve great success, and I hope we will have even more future Mustangs joining us next fall.”

For more information, visit Upward Bound.