5-year grant means more students are upward bound


Sun Intern

Kenitra Foote will be a senior this fall, and she is on her way to becoming a first generation college student thanks to Upward Bound, a college-readiness program at North Hennepin Community College.

Upward Bound recently received a five-year, $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue providing academic services to qualified high school students who wish to attend college.

The program was started in 2008 to give all students a chance at college.

"There is a need in the Brooklyn Park area with the high percentage of families without college degrees and low income," Upward Bound Director, Gregory Burke said.

Students who are first generation college students or have a family with low income may qualify to attend the Upward Bound program.

Foote has been involved with Upward Bound since ninth grade and enjoys the smaller classrooms it provides.

"There is more one-on-one time than what you get in a classroom setting," Foote said.

The faculty working with the students provide tutoring and help them plan for the future.

"We help with anything from pre-college financial aid to home-life counseling," Burke said. "If the students are struggling in their private life they usually are not going be as successful in school."

During the school year, students receive academic tutoring twice a week and attend a Saturday Academy at North Hennepin Community College once a month.

During the summer, students take part in a six-week program consisting of two- or three-hour-long college preparatory courses in math, science, English and a foreign language.

Students visit museums and colleges around the country for educational experiences and to compare colleges.

Liz Iverson is the academic advisor and works with 35 students, helping them with ACT prep, MCA prep, college exploration, career research and more.

"The best part is watching the students achieve their goals," Iverson said.

For Foote the best part is, "meeting new people."

The Upward Bound program does not limit itself to one high school, all students from the area can apply.

The recent grant allows 50 students to attend Upward Bound.

"We are fortunate to help 50," Burke said.

Burke also explained that if the program had the money to admit more students like Foote, it would.