U.S. Department of Education Awards MVSU $3.9 Million for Upward Bound I Services

June 16, 2022

By Michael Coleman, MVSU Communications Intern

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Mississippi Valley State University over $3.9 million to continue funding the Upward Bound I Program for the next five years.

MVSU’s Upward Bound I Program serves low-income and first-generation students at Amanda Elzy High School, Gentry High School, Greenwood High School, Holmes County Central High School, Humphreys County High School, Leflore County High School, and Thomas Edwards Sr. High School.

“This is a great day at MVSU as we announce that the Upward Bound I Program will continue to provide academic and enrichment services to high school students in the Mississippi Delta,” said Upward Bound I Executive Director Derrick Jones. Upward Bound will continue to impact and make a significant difference in the lives of 165 high school students from seven schools in our college district and for generations to come,” he added.

Performance data, which included graduation rates, college acceptance and attendance rates, high school dropout rates, ACT scores, and post-secondary completion rates, from all schools in the college’s four-county district were included and considered in the grant proposal. The performance data revealed which schools would best benefit from the program based on the principles of which the program stands. 

Omarvion Clark, a junior at Gentry High School, said, “First, I get a head start on my classes for next year. Secondly, we all get a feel for the college, especially in the residence halls. Lastly, I get to meet other kids from other schools and network. We talk about sports mostly; football, basketball, and sometimes even track,” he continued.  

Upward Bound is a six-week intensive for low-income and first-generation college students to begin breaking the cycle of poverty. The program offers each participant a schedule that includes classes they will be introduced to the following Fall semester, along with college and career readiness skills.

Typically, students receive a pre and post-assessment to show their growth from the first and last week of the program. They receive group and individual counseling from college-educated instructors and current students enrolled in a University. The program serves about 160 students yearly from Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore, and Sunflower counties.

“The program provides participants with academic tutoring; second and post-secondary advisement; college entrance exam preparation; assistance completing the first-year applications; financial and economic literacy; instruction in mathematics, laboratory science, foreign language, and literature; exposure to cultural events and academic programs; career exploration, and an on-campus residential program,” said Jones.