Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Texas A&M-Kingsville receives funding for new Upward Bound Urban program

KINGSVILLE - December 05, 2012

Contact: Julie Navejar
julie.navejar@tamuk.edu or 361-593-2590

Several grants from the United States Department of Education to Texas A&M University-Kingsville have been renewed, and one new grant was earned that will allow the university to move in the metropolitan counties of Nueces and San Patricio to serve college-bound high school students.

 Dr. Mary Gonzalez, assistant vice president for student affairs, and the staff of her Office of Special Programs will soon be implementing the Upward Bound Math and Science Urban project. The university was awarded $1.25 million over the next five years to serve the areas of high need within Nueces and San Patricio counties.

“This new grant will allow us to search for students in those counties who are gifted in math and science and get them on the right track to higher education,” Gonzalez said. “Many of the pre-college students we serve come from schools that are consistently low-performing by the standards of the Texas Education Agency. We give them the opportunity to get a head start in the college process so they are better prepared to succeed.

“We have embraced serving students from our surrounding rural counties and this new grant will allow us to expand that area. Students will start out as high school freshmen in the program and we will guide them to be successful college freshmen,” she added.

In addition to funding for the new program, the university received an additional five years of funding for $1.25 million each to continue the Upward Bound classic program and Upward Bound Math and Science, both serving Kleberg, Jim Wells and Duval county schools. Fifty students are served in each of the three Upward Bound programs.

Over the past 10 years, 89 to 94 percent of students in the Upward Bound programs attend college somewhere and of those to choose higher education, 91 percent come to Texas A&M-Kingsville.

“The key is to engage the students early in their high school experience and bring them to campus often. Then it starts to feel like a second home to them,” Gonzalez said. “Our first year retention rates and graduation rates for this group of students are well over the state and national rate. We pride ourselves on maintaining high levels of expectations from our programs and will ensure we implement these best practices in the newly funded areas of Nueces and San Patricio counties.”

Both of the current Upward Bound programs serve students who would be first-generation college students, meet the income guidelines and have a need for academic support. In addition to tutoring, testing counseling, academic skills enhancement, college admission and financial aid assistance, both programs also have a six-week summer component in which the participants live in the residence halls at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

“During these summer programs, the high school students experience what it is like to be a college student. They get a feel for college life, receive intensive instruction either in math and science or in core curriculum classes, and have fun group activities,” Gonzalez said.

The numbers show the pre-college Upward Bound programs are working. Freshman retention rates for students in the program who attend Texas A&M-Kingsville are higher than the university’s rate, which stands at 59 percent. In 2008 and 2009, the freshman retention rate for students who came through the Upward Bound programs was 64 percent each year. That rate rose to 94 percent in 2010 and fell slightly to 83 percent for the 2011 cohort.

Retention rates may be higher because, once in college, the services provided by the special programs staff do not stop. Students continue to receive assistance throughout their college career.

Another U.S. Department of Education program that just received continued funding is the Ronald McNair Scholars Program, a pipeline program geared toward funneling promising college students into graduate school. The McNair Program received another $1.26 million over the next five years.

“Students in the McNair Program are required to work with a faculty mentor on undergraduate research projects and then, when the time comes, receive assistance with their graduate school admissions process,” Gonzalez said.

As of 2010, 187 students from the A&M-Kingsville McNair Program have earned their bachelor’s degrees, 55 have gone on to earn master’s degrees and 20 have received doctoral degrees. Currently, 47 graduates of the program are working toward their master’s degrees, while 14 are studying for their doctorate.

 A final program that was just given $1.15 million for another five years is the Educational Opportunity Center. This program is for adults 19 years old and older who dropped out of school or stopped and wish to continue their education. These adults must be low income, first generation college students. Help is provided for those who may need their GED, to those starting a college career or those getting back into college after several years of being out of higher education.

The Educational Opportunity Center serves four counties—Kleberg, Jim Wells, Duval and Brooks.

For more information on any of the programs, please call 361-593-2129.


This page was last updated on: December 05, 2012