While many schools remain quiet during the summer, Tulane University classrooms for the Upward Bound program are abuzz with eager learners. Approaching its 10th year of service to high school students from economically challenged areas of New Orleans, the program continues to lead its participants toward achieving their full academic potential.
Ariana Magee, standing, conducts an experiment with a sophomore science class during summer Upward Bound sessions at Tulane. During the school year, she teaches science at a charter school. (Photo by Alicia Duplessis)
Operating under the umbrella of the Tulane Center for Public Service, the program accommodates up to 50 participants each year who are from low-income homes or will be first-generation college students.
“This program has been known for having a 100 percent graduation rate, followed by enrollment in post-secondary institutions,” says Tanya Jones, who became the program's director in 2006 as it recovered from Hurricane Katrina. “Our goal is to provide students with additional academic enrichment to help them improve their grades. Better grades improve their chances for college and open doors for scholarship opportunities.”
The year-round program meets after school, on Saturdays and on weekdays during the summer. Participants study English, math, science and foreign languages as well as ACT and SAT preparation.
It's a seemingly bland way to spend a summer, but Jones says that participants feel just the opposite. Many students maintain perfect attendance and are excited about being with friends and taking field trips.
“We go on college tours and take fun field trips to the aquarium and to museums so the students are not overwhelmed with studying,” says Jones. “When you think about how much time these kids are dedicating to this program in addition to regular school, they deserve to have a little fun as well.”
This summer, Upward Bound participants travel to Atlanta for college visits to Morehouse College, Spelman College, Georgia Tech, Emory University and Georgia State University.
Even after the senior participants move on to college, Upward Bound continues to check on their success.
“We track them into the first two years of college using a database that tells us if the student is enrolled and if they're full time,” says Jones. “Sometimes we'll make calls to find out how their grades are and to get an update on their progress.”
Upward Bound is a national initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, and is hosted by organizations and universities across the country. Tulane's program began in 1999 and was recently refunded through 2011.
For more information call 504-862-5882 or visit the Tulane Upward Bound office at 7104 Plum St. in New Orleans.