The Upward Bound program at Missouri Southern State University has been approved for a five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education.

The grant – which will provide $289,195 per year, starting Sept. 1 – will help fund the program, which prepares high-school students for post-secondary education. Currently, it serves 70 students from the Joplin, Carl Junction, Carthage, Webb City and East Newton school districts.

“We have to show the need in the area to be approved for the grant,” said Robin Hicklin, director of Upward Bound at Missouri Southern. “They look at poverty rates, test scores, the number of students graduating and attending college, and our past performance to see that we’re meeting our goals.

Students served will primarily be first-generation college students and/or come from low-income families, said Hicklin.

“Students get in as freshmen and continue throughout high school,” he said. “We offer tutoring, ATC preparation and workshops that focus on study and skills assessments. We also visit area colleges and universities and give them the background knowledge they need to do scholarship searches.

“In the summer, we have a simulated college experience, where the students live on campus for five weeks and take high-school classes in a college setting, which gives them a jump start for that class in the fall.”

Students who qualify can participate in a cultural trip. This year, a group of students will visit Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M.

Upward Bound has been offered at Missouri Southern since 1999. The most recent annual report, for the 2015-16 year, demonstrates the program’s success. One-hundred percent of participating seniors that year graduated from high school, with 80 percent continuing on to college.

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