With the help of a $1million grant from the federal government, Cal State Northridge will help make college an attainable goal for low-income and first-generation college students. The grant will be issued over the course of four years, to establish a CSUN chapter of the Upward Bound Program, a federal TRIO program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.
According to Javier Hernandez, director of CSUN student outreach and recruitment services, the program is expected to begin this fall. Students from Reseda, Birmingham, and Verdugo Hills High School will be eligible to apply for the program. Among the potential candidates, 50 will be chosen by their respective schools, based on their level of financial need and interest expressed in attending college.
“The intent of the project is to provide this group of students with academic support services [and] exposure to universities, so that once they graduate high school, they’re prepared to go on to college,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez describes the typical applicant as someone who has shown a desire to seek higher education, but may not have the resources, role models, or opportunities to prepare for college.
Upward Bound offers mentoring programs, tutoring services and assistance with completing college and financial aid applications. The program also provides a five-week summer session in which students will live on campus and attend classes so they can get a taste of the college life. They will receive instruction in the core subjects such as math, science and English. The credit earned from the classes taken during the five-week period can be applied for high school credit.
While the students are the primary focus of the program, Hernandez stressed the importance of parental involvement, with the ultimate goal of the parent to become an ally in the student’s preparation.
“Parents are going to be involved from the inception of the program,” said Hernandez. “We have planned a series of workshops and training sessions so that the parent can also become informed on what it takes to get into college, the importance of early preparation, and how they can finance a college education.”
Upon completion of the Upward Bound program, Hernandez estimates that 90 percent of the students end up going to college. He added that the act of one student attending college has caused a sort of trickle down effect on their friends and families, as they see the potential for success first-hand.
“The intent [of the program] is to increase their academic ability,” said Hernandez, “so that they become competitive students when they apply to college.”
Although the Upward Bound program is new to CSUN, Hernandez feels confident that the grant has been effectively implemented, and has incorporated a strong partnership among the campus community, the student service departments, and the three high schools that are working closely to make this program a success.