A program that helps Knox County high school students become first-generation college graduates got a boost from a new five-year grant cycle worth more than $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Education. Under the grant, Carl Sandburg College’s Upward Bound program will receive $312,480 each year through 2027. Upward Bound is a federally funded program that is free to participants and helps high school students achieve academic success, develop into well-rounded citizens and transition into post-secondary education, with the goal of obtaining a college degree.

The college’s Upward Bound program serves 67 Knox County high school students from the Abingdon-Avon, Galesburg, Knoxville and ROWVA school districts every year. Participants must be a first-generation college-bound student, meaning neither parent with whom they live has a bachelor’s degree, and/or meet income or academic guidelines. Sandburg has hosted a TRIO Upward Bound program since 1999.

“Being awarded this grant cycle means Sandburg will be able to continue to positively support and impact young people in our area as they work toward achieving their goals,” said Sandburg TRIO Upward Bound director Christopher Williams, an Upward Bound alumnus from East St. Louis who was part of the program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “Upward Bound gives students the backing and tools they often need to be successful in high school and to become one of the first in their families to graduate from college.”

In the most recent data from the 2020-21 academic year, Sandburg’s Upward Bound program retained and graduated 99% of its participants and 100% of participants graduated from high school with a college prep curriculum. Additionally, 84% of students in the program reported a higher grade point average after participating in the program.

For more information about the Sandburg Upward Bound program, contact Williams at 309-341-5448 or cwilliams@sandburg.edu.