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History of Trio at Jacksonville University
History of Trio at Jacksonville University
In June, 1977, the first 50 students in what would become a stream numbering more than 1500, stepped onto the Jacksonville University campus to begin their search for what they had been promised: a golden opportunity. That golden opportunity was offered in the form of the help they would need to prepare them for something that few of them had thought possible – a college education. What they sought was granted to them through the Upward Bound Program.
Upward Bound is a program, funded by the United States Department of Education, which was enabled by Congress in the Higher Education Act of 1964. It was initiated at Jacksonville University, in 1977, with funds obtained from a grant proposal written by Professor Janet Johnson. Mrs. Johnson was the original director of the program, remaining in that post until August, 1999. Through her hard work, commitment and dedication, hundreds of children from low-income families, who were potential first-generation college students, were aided in their search for the chance to obtain a college education. That effort continues today, under the leadership of Cecilia Severin.
The eighty students currently in the program were selected from six target schools: Englewood, Jackson, Lee, Ribault, Raines, and Terry Parker High Schools. Those who enroll in Upward Bound are taught by Duval County School teachers and college professors dedicating their Saturdays, during the school year, and six weeks of effort during the summer, to help the students improve their performances in the classroom. This is consistent with the goal of the program: to increase the academic performances and motivational levels of high school students so that they may complete secondary schools and successfully pursue post-secondary educational programs. The focus of the program is to help the students realize their potential by teaching them the academic and social skills necessary for collegiate excellence.
The young people of Upward Bound are asked to make a serious commitment. For three years (10th, 11th and 12th grades), they devote six weeks of their summer vacations, and 28 of their Saturdays, during the school year, to participation in the program. While they are on JU’s campus, they attend classes, participate in seminars, receive tutoring assistance, and go on field trips to other college campuses in the region.
They obtain information about improving their reading, test-taking and study skills. They are prepared for the SAT, ACT, FCAT, and other tests they must take to complete high school, and participate in the college application process. They meet professionals in a number of fields, many of them former Upward Bounders, who impart the wisdom of their experience to the students. They are, also, assisted with applications to colleges and for scholarships and other financial aid.
The essence of their experience in Upward Bound is to provide these students with a positive idea of what it would be like if they were students in college, while preparing them for the experience, and aiding their attempt to gain entry. Over the 29 years of the program’s existence, at JU, this formula has produced extraordinary results. More than 85% of the students who have enrolled remained in the program for the entire three years of participation. Of that group, more than 91% went on to enroll in the colleges of their choice. The remainder went into the armed services, or enrolled in post-secondary technical or vocational training. These results clearly demonstrate the truth that talent is not visited only on the wealthy. Given a vision and a vehicle, children of the most modest of means can be shown the way to the realization of the American Dream.
Upward Bound is a national presence. The Clinton administration saw the merit in providing additional funding to expand Upward Bound, and other programs like it, under the umbrella of the Department of Education’s TRIO Programs. Currently, there are about 2500 Upward Bound programs funded, nationwide, with two of them active in Jacksonville. The other one is sited at Florida Community College at Jacksonville’s North Campus.