Harvey Mudd’s Upward Bound Program Funded for Another Five Years

by Andrew Alonzo | aalonzo@clarremont-courier.com

Harvey Mudd College announced that its grant for the federally administered Upward Bound program has been renewed by the U.S. Department of Education, funding the program for the next five years, through May 2027.

“It’s a sense of relief,” which will be funded for the next half-decade, said Angie Covarrubias Aguilar, director of Harvey Mudd’s Upward Bound program for the past 16 years.

Created by President Lyndon B. Johnson a year after the passage of the Educational Opportunity Act of 1964, Upward Bound has grown from a so-called experimental program to an almost year-round learning resource. Harvey Mudd’s Upward Bound program is just one of 966 programs across the country, including 144 in California.

The program’s mission is “to help students develop the skills and motivation to pursue post-secondary education after high school graduation,” Aguilar said. “The population we serve is typically low-income, first-generation students. »

Angie Covarrubias Aguilar has been director of Harvey Mudd’s Upward Bound program for 16 years. MAIL photo/Andrew Alonzo

The program began locally in 1968 at Claremont University Center before moving to Harvey Mudd in 1972. Mudd is expected to receive $774,690 in federal funds for the upcoming 2022-23 school year. Although the amount varies, typical grant budgets are around $750,000 per year.

Each year, Harvey Mudd’s program serves 145 high school students in the East San Gabriel Valley area through partnerships with five high schools: Garey High School in Pomona; El Monte and Mountain View High Schools in El Monte; Raised from south of El Monte; and Bassett High of La Puente.

Many programs are established each school year and for six weeks during the summer for students in grades 10, 11 and 12.

Harvey Mudd tutors help students on and off campus. On some Saturdays, students are bussed from their high school to Mudd for a morning of tutoring. Upward Bound tutors also visit all five high schools weekly to further assist students.

Students can apply for the Upward Bound program in the spring of their freshman year.

“When our students are admitted into the program, they begin a grade point average goal for themselves. And every six weeks, 12 weeks, and semester, when the report card comes out, we calculate their GPA,” Aguilar said. “If they receive their [target] GPA, fantastic. But if they’re not, that’s why they need to come to those two hours, to get that extra help to help them achieve their own goals.

During the summer, six-week courses and internships are offered for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Cohorts are broken down by grade level, and students learn a variety of subjects such as math, science, marine biology, and community engagement.

“We don’t give Aces and Bs, but we really focus, during this period, on the [study] process,” Aguilar said. “What are some important study skills that you might not have had to do in high school, but in college it’s second nature?”

“We’re very committed to teaching students about the growth mindset, how they can change their mindset, and what effort and the study process can really change for them.”

Last week, the COURIER came across the cohort of high school students from Harvey Mudd, Upward Bound Deputy Principal Alfredo Rodriguez, who had completed virtual summer internships at the Library of Congress. Budding academics created presentations for their exit interviews.

Among them was America Reyes of El Monte High School, who spoke about what she’s earned in her three years with Upward Bound. She joined in 2020, in her second year and in the midst of the pandemic, when life and school were still virtual. She enjoyed most of her time with Upward Bound but expressed disappointment knowing she didn’t get everything she could have thanks to COVID-19.

“But we are here now,” America said. “Even though we don’t get the full experience, I’m still glad I applied and continued with Upward Bound while virtual learning.”

America said the program helped her improve her time management and planning skills. She recalls not having the best grades in her freshman year, but showed major progress in her freshman year and credited Upward Bound for the improvement. After graduating from El Monte High, she hopes to attend UCLA and become the first person in her family to go to college.

“I’m the first, so I have to figure out how to apply to college myself,” America said. “But now I have Upward Bound helping me. If you’re first generation like me, you’ll get the help you need applying to college if you don’t know what you’re doing.

After students graduate from high school, the program monitors them for six years, tracking how many of them earn college and/or post-secondary degrees.

According to Harvey Mudd’s 2021 annual report, about 93% of the 145 students enrolled in the school’s Upward Bound program who were first-generation students came from low-income families. Aguilar also said 85% of 2021 program graduates went on to post-secondary education.

While the numbers are great for painting the picture of the success brought by the Upward Bound program, Aguilar said they only tell part of the story.

“The story it doesn’t tell is Upward Bound’s human impact,” she said. “These are experiences… that can change lives. That’s when they can discover their love for research, or they can discover, ‘Oh wait, I can do math!’ These little things really help them through the highs and lows of adolescence.

Admission to Upward Bound for the 2022-23 school year is closed, but Aguilar encouraged parents, guardians and students to take advantage of the program in the future. There is no registration fee and participation is free.

More info on www2.ed.gov/programs/trioupbound/awards.html and hmc.edu/upward-bound/admission-upward-bound. People can also email upward_bound@hmc.edu or call (909) 621-8123 with questions.

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