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Why Bridging the Gap to College for Low-Income Students Is As Important Today As It Ever Was

November 6, 2014 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Hines, AlterNet

A Q&A with the creator of Upward Bound, a half century after its creation.

It’s been 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson launched his historic “War on Poverty,” which aimed to bolster the federal government’s support of impoverished communities nationwide. As a result of Johnson’s efforts, the mid-1960s saw the birth of notable poverty-reducing initiatives such as Job Corps, Head Start, and the TRIO program—a group of “federal outreach and student services programs … designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Upward Bound, a program that works with high school-aged, low-income and first generation students to prepare them for college, is the signature program of TRIO and in the 50 years since its creation, has served more than 2 million students from America’s underserved communities. Notable alumni include actress Viola Davis, journalist John Quinones, DNC Vice-Chairwoman Donna Brazile, and the NBA’s Patrick Ewing.

On November 8, Upward Bound alumni, business leaders, elected officials, and educational leaders will gather at the Boston University Auditorium and Atrium to participate in a 50th Anniversary Symposium to honor the program’s achievements and plan for its future. In anticipation of this event, AlterNet’s education editor, Elizabeth Hines, spoke with the man credited as the architect of the Upward Bound initiative, Stan Salett. Salett, who is also the author of The Edge of Politics: Stories from the Civil Rights Movement, the War on Poverty & the Challenges of School Reform, spoke with us from his home in Washington, D.C. The interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Elizabeth Hines: As you get ready to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Upward Bound, tell us a little bit about its origins. Whose idea was the program, and how did it come to fruition?

Stan Salett: Well, I'm generally credited with the idea, but it came, as all ideas do, out of a specific social and political context that maybe is unique in our time.

There would have been no Upward Bound without the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement, in addition to pressing for the Civil Rights Act and for opening up public …read more


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