Upward Bound closing after 40 years at LBW

Published 2:24 am Friday, June 23, 2017

A program that has helped potential first-generation college students prepare for that possibility through academic and cultural experiences is coming to an end after 40 years.

LBW Community College recently learned that its Upward Bound program was a fraction of a point short from qualifying for the next round of federal grants.

LBW president Dr. Herb Riedel called the loss of the program, which has served a minimum of 50 high school students a year for the past 40 years, a blow to the college and the community. College officials confirmed that two full-time and one part-time grant-funded jobs will be lost as a result.

While the college can seek Upward Bound funding again in the future, it cannot do so again for four years.

“The Upward Bound program has been a valuable part of the college for 40 years,” Riedel said. “This federally funded program served high school students who met the grant criteria by enriching their instruction and preparing them to go to college. Many of them attended LBW and became successful here or at other colleges or universities in Alabama. The closing of this program is a huge loss for our community.”

For most of the years that LBW had Upward Bound, the program included 50 high school students each year. In the last several years, that number increased to 65 and allowed more focus in math and science. The program served students were from nine high schools in Crenshaw, Butler, and Covington counties.

Upward Bound is among eight federally-funded outreach and student services programs known as TRIO programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Student Support Services is also a TRIO program offered at LBWCC, designed to help students once they are enrolled in college, and is in the second year of a five-year grant.

“These programs have proven beneficial to the academic success of students, their achievements both in and out of the class room, and the long-term benefits of becoming a college graduate,” Riedel said.

“We submitted an excellent grant proposal for Upward Bound, but very narrowly missed the funding band,” he said. “Funding for the current grant ends in August. The U.S. Department of Education has granted a one-time, no-cost extension until Dec. 31, 2017, to allow for an orderly close out of the grant.”

Riedel said he appreciates the hard work and dedication of the individuals employed with the Upward Bound program through the years.

“Although we are losing this grant, we are very open to welcoming the same student population and have some enhanced ways to support them. We won’t have the Saturday academic and cultural enhancement portion of the program, but we have a new director of student success and an enhanced orientation and advising process,” Riedel said.

LBW reaches out to high school students in several other ways, he added.

“We provide dual enrollment courses in both technical and academic programs, College 101 for high school seniors to better prepare them on what to expect from college, participate in college and career fairs, and are open to any college visits that schools would like to organize.”

Last year, LBWCC was awarded a $2.5 million Title III five-year grant through the U.S. Department of Education that is allowing the development of student success programs, he said.

“The Title III grant is funding the development of a student success program, including success coaching beginning this fall,” he said. “Within the next few years, we will also be able to develop a new occupational therapy assistant technical training program.”