U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel recently announced that $3 million in grant funding has been awarded to Palm Beach State College by the U.S. Department of Education to expand the Upward Bound TRIO college readiness program.
A portion of the funding will enable PBSC to launch an Upward Bound TRIO program in the Glades to serve Pahokee and Glades Central high schools. This will mark the first Upward Bound TRIO program for high school students in the Glades region.
“Although we know that not everyone has to go to college to be successful in life, we know from experience that there are benefits to earning a college degree,” Frankel said to high school students, administrators, parents and PBSC officials on hand for the announcement.
She referenced a Georgetown University study that reports college graduates earn $1 million more over the lifetime of their careers.
“This Upward Bound program gives young people a real opportunity to reach their full potential, so I’m very pleased to have Palm Beach State not only continue their program but add to their program with this $3 million over five years,” Frankel said.
Upward Bound is one of the eight U.S. Department of Education-funded TRIO programs, including seven designed to help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds get on the path to higher education and finish.
“What’s special to us about having this TRIO grant is that we can serve more students,’’ PBSC President Ava Parker said. “We can expand our services out to the Glades. If we just help a few, it’s great, but it’s so much better when we can help more students.”
Upward Bound participants receive tutoring and academic and career counseling, and they participate in social, cultural and educational activities, including field trips and college tours. Students enter the program in the ninth or 10th grade and continue until high school graduation. Upward Bound staff is charged with tracking the success of students for six years after high school graduation.
Upward Bound Program Director Syla Alcin said that in the 2020-21 school year, 100 percent of the seniors served achieved proficient level on state assessments in reading/language arts and math. More than 90 percent of participants continued in school for the next academic year or graduated with a high school diploma, and 52 percent enrolled in a program of postsecondary education.
“Those are great achievements that could not happen if we did not have the support of those programs and the community,” Alcin said.
In addition to Upward Bound, PBSC also operates Student Support Services, Talent Search and Educational Opportunity Centers TRIO programs.
Melyne Cineas, a rising senior at G-Star High School, who first entered the Upward Bound TRIO program when she was at Lake Worth High School, said she has been on college tours, received assistance with scholarship applications, attended workshops, gained college readiness skills, and has participated in other activities, including a trip to Atlanta where she toured the state universities. “I love TRIO Upward Bound. It’s like a second family. It’s a second support system. My advisor and my peers have helped me to be a great person and be ready for college,” she said.
Kevin Alvarado Escobar, an incoming senior at Palm Beach Lakes High School, said the program has helped him improve academically and gain experiences that he may not have otherwise received. “From being in this program, I have gained the trust of people that I never thought I would have met,” he said.
The most recent grant will provide $286,527 a year to serve 60 students at Glades Central and Pahokee high schools. The first grant provides $312,480 a year for the original program established at PBSC in 1999. It will serve 65 students from John I. Leonard and Palm Beach Lakes high schools.