After a 25-year hiatus, the federally funded TRIO-Upward Bound Program will return to Fisk University. The program will increase the number of low-income, first-generation students in the metro Nashville area who will obtain their high school diploma and go on to earn their college degrees. Fisk was among a select group of institutions winning competitive grants awarded by the Department of Education for the cycle 2022-2027. Totaling $1,437,642 over a five-year period and $287,528 annually, Fisk University will partner with area high schools to stem the rates of lagging academic performance of students from low-income backgrounds. The funds also are intended to abate the troubling intersection of students who are both from low-income families and potentially first-generation to attend college.
“This is truly great news for the entire Fisk University community,” said Fisk University President Dr. Vann R. Newkirk, Sr. “Considering the fact that Fisk University has not operated an Upward Bound program over the last two decades, this is a tremendous accomplishment.”
As a historian, Dr. Newkirk relished the fact that when the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) created the first Upward Bound Summer in 1965, in response to President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” Fisk was one of only 17 institutions participating in the pilot Upward Bound program. Fisk was also among a handful of institutions whose Upward Bound activities emerged from similar efforts developed by Educational Services, Inc. Those early initiatives and this recent award reinforce Fisk University’s commitment to fostering opportunities for the achievement of academic success.
Fisk University will provide support for 60 area high school students that will include intensive academic advising/counseling, college entrance exam preparation, parental support, college financial aid planning, financial literacy, FAFSA training/assistance, course selection assistance, academic assessment, scholarship assistance, career planning, cultural enrichment, support for re-entry, alternative education, and special populations and core curriculum instruction. Effective outcomes will be measured by increases in the number of students participating in the program who will complete their secondary education and enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions.
Upward Bound services will take place throughout the regular academic year at the participating schools, at Fisk University, and through remote learning. Summer programming will include structured academic exposure, supervised residential life, and a slate of relevant cultural activities and events. Commitments of support include the target schools, area community organizations, and local businesses.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to have some impact with low-income students and families,” said Fisk University Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Frank Sims.
Upward Bound proposal developer and special assistant to President Newkirk, Dr. Kenneth E. Jones, said he is looking forward to ensuring that the objectives of the grant are met and seeing positive outcomes for underserved students in the Nashville metro area.