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Funding in place to save LBW program

A grass roots campaign to restore the services lost when LBW Community College’s Upward Bound grant was not renewed means the college will launch a new program, Apex, in the spring.

The City of Andalusia and the Dixon Foundation this week approved requests to fund the program, joining Southeast Gas, Covington Electric and the City of Opp, all of whom have already said “yes.”

“This means we are in business officially,” LBW President Dr. Herb Riedel said Wednesday. “We still have other requests not heard from, but as a grass roots effort, this is coming together.”

Upward Bound is a federal grant program that helps potential first-generation college students prepare for that possibility through academic and cultural experiences. LBW has operated an Upward Bound program for 40 years, most recently serving nine high schools. When the college’s grant proposal was a fraction of a point short of being reapproved, the effort to start a similar, locally-funded program began.

“We have drafted a proposal which mirrors the Upward Bound program,” Riedel said. “A number of people saw the value in what it did for students as well as the community, and did not want to let it go.”

The Apex plan includes 50 to 60 students, and includes a summer component.

Southeast Gas CEO Greg Henderson wrote letters to area municipalities requesting the funding.

“I have known several students for whom this program positively changed t heir lives forever,” Henderson said of Upward Bound. “The Apex Program will have the same criteria and anticipated benefits.”

Riedel said the selection process for student participants will begin in the spring, and the college has been advertising for a director.

“We are very excited,” Riedel said. “We are excited for the students because those individual students will be benefitted, and have a whole range of options open to them, they did not even know were available.”