TriO Upward Bound at the University of Maine at Presque Isle has been awarded a $45,000 Maine College Access grant by the Finance Authority of Maine. The grant monies will help officials to teach high school students in the Upward Bound program about finances and college savings, as well as provide support for Upward Bound graduates who are now in college.
The grant, titled "$uccess! Planning for College and Beyond," will have two main focuses – finance education for Upward Bound students and parents and retention efforts. The grant may be renewed for another four years and there is the potential for funding to increase from year to year.
"It was a competitive process, so we're very pleased to receive this Maine College Access Grant and move forward on efforts to help our Upward Bound students get to college and stay there until they complete their degrees," Darylen Cote, Director of TRiO Upward Bound, said.
Officials have hired Tammy Lothrop to carry out the bulk of the activities for this grant. Lothrop, who has served as a social worker in MSAD #1 and most recently in Lincoln, is Upward Bound's new College Finance and Retention Specialist. Lothrop is working with student intern Sheila Blair on grant activities.
Lothrop and Blair will be offering several workshops that are all about money for Upward Bound students and parents. "$uccess!" sessions will be held in several locations throughout the County. Officials will do one workshop just with Upward Bound students on Saturday, March 19, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Regionally, they'll be doing three workshops with parents and students on Saturdays during March, April and May – at UMPI, the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the Houlton Higher Education Center. The workshops will be informative and fun, complete with games and prizes. Topics will include budgeting, stretching dollars, credit, loans, and saving for college. For students and parents who attend all sessions, there will be a raffle at each location for a grand prize.
Lothrop also will be dedicating her time to retention efforts. She will be contacting 2008, 2009 and 2010 high school graduates who participated in Upward Bound and now are at UMPI and UMFK, as well as those attending colleges further away, to see how they are doing at the university level.
"Sometimes it's hard for students to admit that they're not succeeding the way they want to – they're used to having someone in high school saying 'Do you need help?'" Cote explained. "This grant gives us a consistent way to check in with them, help them to stay in school and stick with it. We're trying to make it easier for students to stay in school and overcome whatever barriers they run into along the way."
As part of the grant, officials also are conducting several FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] labs for students at UMPI and UMFK. They held a FAFSA lab titled "It's All About the Money" at UMFK's Cyr Hall on Feb. 7. The FAFSA lab "For the Love of Money" will take place on Feb. 15 at Kelley Commons from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and on the second floor of Pullen/Folsom Hall from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Upward Bound program was established on the UMPI campus in 1980. It has served hundreds of students over the last 30 years. Since 2007, the UMPI program has collaborated with UMFK and UMPI's Houlton Center in order to better serve students in the St. John Valley, as well as Southern Aroostook.
Upward Bound is a federally funded program open to high school students who qualify financially, or are the first in their families to attend college. Working with area high schools, the program identifies students who could benefit from the intensive academic, cultural enrichment, and other college preparation services that Upward Bound provides. The program has been successful in assisting participants, who might not otherwise have attended, to go to college and persist until they meet their degree goals.