Students at two Klamath Falls high schools may qualify for a new cost-free program specifically aimed at helping more kids achieve the college dream.

The program, Upward Bound, is a grant-based program funded by the Department of Education. Upward Bound is administered through Klamath Community College (KCC) and will provide services for 60 Klamath Union and EagleRidge high school students that are potential first-generation college students or economically disadvantaged.

Through the grant, Upward Bound representatives will meet students at each campus to provide services such as one-on-one afterschool tutoring, help preparing for college entrance exams and applications, help completing college loan and grant applications, and career counseling.

Participating students may also qualify for college application fee waivers and ACT/SAT fee waivers, according to Upward Bound Program Director Jennifer Gamez.

“Upward Bound is aimed at helping develop students academically, personally and professionally,” said Jamie Jennings, vice president of academic affairs at Klamath Community College (KCC). “Our goal is to help get more youth into college and to the finish line with the support they need.”

Grant funding

KCC announced it received the $1.3 million Upward Bound grant June. Upward Bound is a part of federal TRiO programs, which serve low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities, in achieving academic success and progressing to colleges and universities. The grant will be disbursed over five years, Jennings said.

Upward Bound Director Gamez and advisor Karla Andrade are eager to get the program underway, and they are actively recruiting students in both high schools.

“It is important for high school students to understand that college is possible and the transition from high school to college does not have to be confusing and stressful,” Gamez said. “Upward Bound reps are at KU and EagleRidge almost daily, letting students know about this terrific opportunity for their future.”

Klamath Union co-principal Tony Swan estimates more than half of Klamath Union’s students are eligible to participate in Upward Bound.

“Easily over half of current KU students could meet the eligibility requirements. This program is free and will be available for several years at KU so we hope students and families will take advantage of it and apply early to join,” he said.

EagleRidge High School Principal Donald Petersen said he is excited for his school to partner with KCC and Klamath Union in Upward Bound because the program is aimed at helping students who have the greatest financial and academic need.

“When KCC approached me about being part of the Upward Bound program and I learned about the help it could give students in being academically successful, I jumped at the opportunity,” said. “We have targeted 20 of our 190 students for the program to help.

“We have close to 70 percent poverty in our school and this program provides just about everything students will need to support their efforts for success and to create a path for college,” he added.

Eligibility

Upward Bound serves eligible students in ninth through twelfth grades free of charge. According to Gamez, high schools seniors are also encouraged to participate in the program because, after high school graduation, Upward Bound benefits can transfer into TRiO Student Support Services, which provides similar tutoring, advising, and guidance services for college students.

“Upward Bound will support students who graduate from high school and then continue their college education toward a specific career,” Swan said. “The more we can help that happen, the better off students will be toward being prepared for the adult world.”

Jennings described the transition from Upward Bound to TRiO as a “community of support that students can take with them past high school and into whatever college or university they choose.”

To qualify for Upward Bound, students must meet at least one of these criteria: be a first-generation (neither parent has a bachelor degree) college student, low-income student by federal guidelines, or show academic need. Participants must also be committed to success, Gamez said.

Upward Bound students are required to use the program’s services weekly — tutoring, counseling, college prep, and more — and to participate in a six-week summer program that will immerse students in the college experience through advanced courses, activities, and campus tours.

“We’ll show the students what it’s like to be on a college campus and what they need to know to successfully navigate the system,” Gamez said.

According to Swan, experiences like those will set Upward Bound participants apart from other high school graduates.

“Upward Bound students will have a unique opportunity to see and learn things on college campus that other teens would not. They will have a big advantage, and have a lot of fun learning and traveling together,” he said.

For an Upward Bound application or for more information, contact program director Jennifer Gamez at 541-880-2262 or email UpwardBound@klamathcc.edu.