UM School of Education’s Upward Bound program

Helping develop academic skills and motivating students for the past 43 years, the University of Miami Upward Bound Program has an overall college graduation rate of over 80 percent.

Among The School of Education’s funded projects, this one stands alone in preparing at-risk students during all four high school years for college application and graduation.

“That’s the only way we measure the success of the program. It’s not only about enrolling in college, but graduating from college,” said Marie Davis, director and graduate of the program.

Established under the Johnson Administration in the late 1960s, Upward Bound provides high school students nationwide with the academic and motivational means necessary for college preparation.

Funded to serve 94 students in Miami-Dade County each year, the UM Upward Bound program considers first generation potential college students and family taxable income for eligibility. In addition, applicants must submit letters of recommendation and a high school transcript.

Administrative Assistant Vivian Figueredo, explained that the program consists of weekly tutoring for the high school students during the academic school year along with a six-week summer residential program when students live on the UM campus to complete their studies.

In addition to offering courses in English, math, social studies and science, Upward Bound teaches Spanish, SAT study skills and provides FCAT review.

A motivating factor for students is when graduates return and talk about their experiences in college. Not only does this promote the college mindset for high school students, it serves as a reminder for the staff of how far many of their previous enrollees have come.

Jae Jackson, assistant director, remembered one student who learned English during her time in Upward Bound and returned as an example of what a person can achieve through the program.

“She acclimated herself to the idea of success,” Jackson said.

Davis explained that some former students who she has worked with during her 13 years of involvement are now dentists, nurses and police officers.

“Having the opportunity to impact them (the students) from ninth grade in terms of preparing them for college is what sets us apart from other mentoring programs,” she said.

Currently no UM students are involved as tutors for this on-campus program, which is using teachers from Miami-Dade county to tutor students. Juniors and seniors may still apply to the program. Although Upward Bound is funded through UM’s School of Education, all majors are welcome to apply.

Senior and former Upward Bound tutor Leslie Elus encourages UM students to volunteer and get involved with this program that helps children in the community.

“Kids are kids. They want to have fun and they’re at a critical moment in their lives and we have the responsibility of being that guide on their road to self-discovery,” he said.

Vanessa Ramos may be contacted at

Info box:

  • Students must be juniors or seniors and submit a resume
  • Tutoring sessions with the Upward Bound students takes place once a week on Tuesdays in the Memorial building classrooms from 6-8 p.m.
  • For more info call 305-284-3015 or send an e-mail to