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OU Upward Bound On Its Way Out

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ATHENS — A 50-year-old program that provides services for low-income and potential first generation college students is going away due to funding cuts, according to officials.
photoThe Ohio University Upward Bound program will be permanently closing on June 30, according to a letter sent to students and families on Wednesday by Director Kwabena Owusu-Kwarteng.
“This closure is due to the loss of the grant funds used to run the program from the U.S. Department of Education,” Owusu-Kwarteng wrote.
Because of the change, OU Upward Bound will not hold its summer phase from June 25 to July 29.
“Furthermore, Ohio University Upward Bound will not be able to provide academic year services starting in the fall 2017, including academic advising, tutoring and weekend workshops,” according to Owusu-Kwarteng.
The university and “lobbyists” are working to petition the loss of the funding, the director said, but the success of the efforts is uncertain.
“We know this is disappointing news and takes away the opportunity for our talented students and their families to explore and expand their education journey,” Owusu-Kwarteng stated in the letter.
OU’s Media Relations Manager, Daniel Pittman, confirmed that the university is working to correct what they say were oversights by the federal department.
“When reviewing the grant proposal for renewal, The Dept. of Education overlooked facts and data provided by the Patton College (of Education),” Pittman told WOUB in an email. “The College is working with Ohio University’s director of government relations to make the Department of Education aware of these oversights and ask for another review.”
The program is completely funded through competitive grants from the Department of Education, and provides at no cost “skills and support services that cultivate resilience, confidence, and preparation for a healthy and successful  transition to a post-secondary institution upon high school graduation,” Pittman wrote.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education allocated $263 million to the nation’s Upward Bound programs, according to federal documents. More recent numbers were not available.
OU’s Upward Bound was funded to serve 90 students, but resources were stretched to provide service for 100, according to Pittman.
The program serves 17 of the area’s high schools: Athens, Alexander, Trimble, Federal Hocking, Nelsonville-York, Logan-Hocking, Meigs, Vinton County, Morgan, New Lexington, Chillicothe, Crooksville, Miller, River Valley, Jackson, Eastern and Southern. The university also had a waiting list of 20 students.
The program, part of eight outreach and student service programs called TRIO programs, supports two full-time positions at OU. As the university awaits review of funding, alternatives are still available, according to Owusu-Kwarteng and Pittman. The Center for International Studies offers the “Startalk” program, which “seeks to increase the number of U.S. citizens learning, speaking, and teaching critical need foreign languages,” according to the university. This summer’s program will focus on Swahili.
The E.W. Scripps School of Journalism offers a High School Journalism Workshop for burgeoning media students, and the College of Arts & Sciences offers a Pre-Law Camp.
Upward Bound started under President Lyndon Johnson, during his “War on Poverty.”