Temple’s Upward Bound program renewed

Temple students volunteer to teach local high school students about college and careers in the Upward Bound program.

High school students Kipaji Miles (left) and Shanique Williams talk about their experience in the Upward Bound program on Feb. 22 in Ritter Annex. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple’s Upward Bound program, a college preparatory program for local high school students, had its charter extended in August 2017, so the program can remain free for students through 2022. The program, which has grown each year, provides educational training to Philadelphia high school students, a university official said.

To be accepted into Upward Bound, students have to attend a Philadelphia public or charter school and intend on enrolling in college. They must either come from a low-income household, be a future first-generation college student or be at-risk for academic failure.

Upward Bound is housed on the sixth floor of Ritter Annex and serves 145 students. It is federally funded by the United States Department of Education. Temple collaborates with a Philadelphia nonprofit, Steppingstone Scholars, to run its day-to-day functions, said LaToya Winkfield, the program’s director and 2001 English alumna.

The program was originally housed in the Russell Conwell Learning Center, which housed several educational initiatives and closed in 2015 due to a lack of state funding. This caused some programs, like Summer Bridge, to be discontinued, but Upward Bound remained the same because it was federally funded.

After the center closed, the university recognized it needed to expand college access for low-income and underperforming students. To do this, it initiated the Temple Option program. This allowed students living outside the radius of Upward Bound’s reach answer supplemental application questions to replace sending SAT scores to Temple.

Temple students can volunteer to mentor participants who are in grades 9th through 12th.

Nagee Brown, a senior chemistry and film and media arts major, graduated from Upward Bound when he attended the Philadelphia Military Academy. Now, he mentors students in the program.

“Being back here is just a great feeling because I try to give back and as much as the people here gave me,” Brown said.

Shanique Williams, 18, a senior at Carver Engineering and Science High School on 16th Street near Norris and an Upward Bound student, learned about the program after her older brother attended for four years.

LaToya Winkfield, Temple’s Upward Bound program director, works in her office on Feb. 22. | WILL BLEIER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

“When I was in around sixth or seventh grade my brother was always here until 6 o’clock, and my mom would be wondering where he was at,” Williams said. “Then I was like, ‘When I get older, I might join the program.’”

Kipaji Miles, 16, is a junior at Bodine High School for International Affairs in Northern Liberties and a student in the Upward Bound program.

“I have so many career choices, and because of that Upward Bound introduced me to liberal arts colleges, but I just feel like anything is possible,” Miles said. “I could do anything I choose.”

Upward Bound students must be committed to attending one-hour tutoring sessions every week. Temple student-mentors also work with Upward Bound’s professional staff, who provide career counseling and support.

One session teaches high school juniors the college application process. They are also expected to attend four-hour supplemental classes on Saturdays, where they offer an SAT preparation course, a math and English class and an additional elective.

Upward Bound also brings in professionals to speak to students about their careers in what are called “personal empowerment sessions,” Winkfield said.

She added that it’s her goal to prepare all Upward Bound students to meet Temple’s admission requirements, even if they don’t choose the university.

“It excites me to know that I’m giving students as many opportunities to be great as I can,” Winkfield said. “Because this is my city, and they are the ones who are going to be running it eventually.”

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