Upward Bound students

Upward Bound, a program offered by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Urban Education (UNI-CUE), will be funded for five more years after receiving another grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Funding for the program has been consistently renewed since its inception in 1986.

Through academic advising, tutoring, career and interpersonal development and academic-focused social and cultural activities, Upward Bound helps students graduate high school and go on to college to earn at least a baccalaureate degree. The program serves 95 local students from East High School, West High School and Expo Alternative Learning Center, including 85 that are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and 10 funded by the John Deere Foundation. Many of these high schoolers would be the first in their families to earn a four-year college degree or come from a low-income background, and some of them fit into both categories.

“Now more than ever, low-income and first-generation students need to be better prepared for successful post-secondary educational attainment, along with having more opportunities to compete for scholarships to offset the rising cost of education,” said Yolanda R. Williams, director for Upward Bound. “We have all heard the proverb, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’ Upward Bound is the proverbial fishing lesson for our young adult participants.”

Upward Bound is one of several TRIO programs offered by the UNI Center for Urban Education. All TRIO programs are funded by the U.S. Department of Education with the purpose of expanding educational opportunities for disadvantaged communities. 

“Receiving another five years of funding ensures that we are providing resources, guidance, strategies and direct support for students to flourish in high school, college and life, and that is what this work is all about,” Williams said. “The academic component is our top priority but we are also just as intentional about immersing our scholars in social, cultural and leadership development. Our scholars are in the driver's seat but we are their GPS on their road to success.” 

Since the center opened in 1969, UNI-CUE’s mission has always been to promote lifelong learning. The extension of this grant will allow UNI-CUE to continue this work, benefiting both the local community and the University of Northern Iowa.


Yolanda R. Williams, Director, Upward Bound, (319) 273-4787, yolanda.williams@uni.edu