Grant funds Upward Bound program

The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the University of Northern Iowa will receive a $387,903 grant for FY 2017 to continue funding the Classic Upward Bound program that operates out of the UNI Center for Urban Education.

The goal of UNI’s Classic Upward Bound program is to develop collaborative relationships with students, parents, educators and schools within the Waterloo community to provide services and support that will enhance the academic skills and motivation that low-income and first-generation students need to complete high school, enter a post-secondary institution and obtain a degree.

Elementary student at the UNI Center for Urban Education

UNI’s program consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of all Upward Bound programs, earning two additional years to the current grant cycle.

Students who have completed the eighth grade or are currently enrolled in the ninth, tenth or eleventh grade in the Waterloo Community School District are eligible to become Classic Upward Bound scholars. Applicants must demonstrate a “potential for completing a college education” as measured by standardized tests, high school grades and written recommendations from a school administrator, counselor or teacher.

Since the program at UNI was first established in 1986, it has produced five Gates Millennium Scholars (a full-ride scholarship to any college or university in the United States) and three Dell Scholars. The program also boasts a 98 percent high school graduation rate and 80 percent six-year college graduation rate. UNI’s program also consistently ranks in the top 10 percent of all Upward Bound programs, earning two additional years to the current grant cycle.

"One of the joys of this job has been watching Classic Upward Bound grow and develop an incredibly positive image,” said Robert Smith, executive director of Educational Opportunity Programs & Special Community Services.

“We have so many success stories among our CUB students and that's directly attributable to the fact the U.S Department of Education has graciously continued to fund this program. Those funds make it possible for us to literally educate tomorrow's leaders who will ultimately become the employees, politicians and citizens who will cause the Cedar Valley to thrive.”

“‘Ensuring that students from underrepresented populations are prepared to enroll in and graduate from an institution of higher education’ are the words that are meant to encapsulate the role of the University of Northern Iowa’s Classic Upward Bound Program,” said Wilfred Johnson, director of Classic Upward Bound.

“The research shows that many of the individuals who entered the UNI Classic Upward Bound Program would probably not have completed the college process without the assistance of our program staff. However, this fact does not adequately describe our students’ talents, reasoning skills, knowledge and potential for success. When I speak to TRIO students, I look into the audience and I often wonder which one will find the cure for cancer, AIDS or the next great challenge. We must realize that America’s future will depend on educating all of its citizens, even the TRIO-eligible students. Therefore, it is imperative that the U.S. Department of Education continue their unwavering support to ensure that UNI Classic Upward Bound eligible students in the Cedar Valley continue to receive the support needed to continue engaging in the college process.

“The U.S. Department of Education staff understands the need to continue to support TRIO programs nationally to assist and ensure those with the greatest needs have access to enroll in and graduate from a post-secondary institution.”

For more information about Classic Upward Bound, visit