Kathy Castor wants to restore $120 Million to Upward Bound Program

07/09/07 Seán Kinane
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The Bush administration cut funding for the Upward Bound program in May. That put in jeopardy the future of this program that provides academic assistance and instruction to low-income high school students to help them prepare for college. This morning at Middleton High School in Tampa, Representative Kathy Castor announced that Congress will vote this week to restore 120 million dollars to the Upward Bound Program. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports.

The Upward Bound program at the University of South Florida, which has served 3000 students over the past 40 years, will be in danger of shutting down if funding is not resumed. But Representative Castor is confident that the House of Representatives will pass a bill this week that includes Upward Bound funding.

“In May, President Bush’s Department of Education announced cuts to the Upward Bound Program, which we’ve had here at the University of South Florida for forty years, helping kids make the transition to college and be successful college graduates. A lot of folks here are up in arms about that. So fortunately, in the Congress, the Education and Labor Committee as part of its College Cost Reduction Act, that’s on the House calendar this week, we’ve added an amendment to restore the funding for our Upward Bound kids here in Florida at FAMU, and UF, and the University of South Florida. It’s poised for adoption and I know it’s going to pass this week.”

It is likely that the House will consider the bill on Thursday morning. The bill, H.R. 2669, includes an amendment introduced by Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia that restores 120 million dollars of Upward Bound funding. It should pass the House and Castor said it is likely to pass the Senate as well.

“I think support for the College Cost Reduction Act and this amendment for Upward Bound is going to broad and bipartisan. A number of my colleagues from the state of Florida signed on to a letter I authored to Margaret Spellings, the Department of Education Secretary calling them out, saying their cuts were misguided and wrong. But the Congress is going to stand up and restore the funding this week.”

The bill also includes increased funding for Pell Grants, which provide direct financial support to college students. Castor said that it was ‘inexplicable’ that funding for Upward Bound was cut by the Bush administration.

“It’s inexplicable that the Bush administration would cut these programs for our students because of the dividends it pays later on. We all know this: if a student graduates from high school, they tend to make a little bit more money than they would if they had not. But if they achieve their college degree, they are set up for great success in life, higher salaries, and that only benefits our community.”

Robert Davis is the Director of Upward Bound Program at University of South Florida. He said that at least 85 percent of Upward Bound students receive four-year college degrees. Davis listed the requirements that students need for Upward Bound in addition to good academic standing,

“We look at family income. The federal government provides mandates, income mandates for students. What they call ‘low income.’ And then they have to qualify as what is called ‘first-generation,’ that means neither their mother or father achieved a four-year college degree.”

Clifton Tyson is a student at Middleton High School in Tampa and hopes to attend Duke University next year. He said it is difficult to balance academics with playing varsity basketball, but that is one of the things that Upward Bound has helped him with.

“Before practice, make sure you get your homework. You’re a ‘student-athlete’, not an ‘athlete-student.’ And the word ‘student’ comes first, so I have to get my work done before I can go to practice. Upward Bound, I go every Saturday, O. Clifton is ‘how’s your games going?” They actually ask me about my games and ask me about my grades. And it’s actually very easy now from the study habits they taught me and the work ethic they taught me to actually balance my [academic] work and my sport.”

Jasmine Hendricks is a student at Durant High. She hopes to attend the University of Florida. She credits Upward Bound for helping her become well organized and well rounded.

“They treat me as an individual that’s part of a group. They realize that I have individual needs as well as, you know, the need to express myself in academics. They’ve helped us to find a balance in life, so that we can be well rounded. Where we have time to do our sports, where we have time to do our studies, where we have time to show off our talents, where we have time for ‘us time’ for families. They’ve shown us how to be these well organized and well rounded people.”

Hendricks keeps busy with school, playing piano, singing, and volunteering. Students attend Upward Bound from 9am until 2 pm on twenty-five Saturdays during the academic year. Hendricks says she is grateful for the Upward Bound program, even though it takes time out of her Saturdays.

“To give up my Saturdays to my education, at first it was kind of hard. But then I was realizing it’s all about what I want in the end, in the future. My education does come first. …. I should be grateful for the program because it’s not just me giving up my Saturdays, but they’re pulling teachers from all around Hillsborough County that care enough about, and have hope about, this group of students that they’re willing to give up their Saturdays as well. So I realized that it’s not a burden that I thought it was. It was somebody who believes in me. And I owe it to them to be thankful and take that and be proud that someone cares enough about my generation to give up their Saturdays as well.”

You can learn more about Upward Bound program on the Department of Education website, ed.gov .

For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane

Learn more:

Upward Bound program at Department of Education

College Cost Reduction Act

H.R. 2669 - College Cost Reduction Act as amended by Rules Committee

U.S. Representative Kathy Castor

House Committee on Education and Labor

House Committee on Rules

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