University of Rochester

University of Rochester to Help Propel Local High School Students to College

October 29, 2007

Rochester city high school students long on college aspirations but short on support will soon have the upper hand in their quest for higher education thanks to the launch of two new Upward Bound programs at the University of Rochester.

The University has been awarded $2 million from the United States Department of Education to operate one program for students at Thomas Jefferson High School and another for math and science enthusiasts across the Rochester City School District.

The initiatives combined will receive roughly $500,000 annually over the next four years and serve as many as 100 students from low-income households or who are the first in their family intent on attending college.

"The University of Rochester is delighted to partner with the Rochester City School District to help more of our city's students realize their dream of attending college," said University President Joel Seligman. "Today's students are in a real sense the future of our society. Those with a supportive school system as well as encouragement from the community have the best chance of making the future that much brighter."

News of the initiative was announced today at Jefferson High School, which entered into a collaborative partnership with the University in 2006 to form an integrated curriculum program for seventh- and eighth-graders called Merchants of Hope.

"We are very excited that the University of Rochester is expanding its already strong presence in our schools by offering this tremendous opportunity for students at Jefferson High School," said Rochester Interim Superintendent of Schools William C. Cala. "This project will provide unprecedented levels of support to keep students on track toward graduation and to open the doors to college that might otherwise remain closed."

Under the Upward Bound programs, which are the first of their kind at the University and will comprise the largest such initiative in the district, up to 100 students will visit the University regularly for tutoring and other cultural enrichment activities provided by the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Science and Engineering.

Students will also get a taste of the academic rigors and social aspects of college life during a multiweek residential program each summer. Participants will stay in residence halls, receive math, science, literature and SAT preparation, and learn how to navigate the sometimes overwhelming college application process. By the time they are in the 11th and 12th grades, the students will be shadowing scientists, doctors and other professionals, and be eligible to take college credit-bearing courses.

"The goal is to create a web of support around each student that they might not otherwise have and to change the way they think about their education," said Beth Olivares, assistant dean for diversity initiatives and director of the Kearns Center and author of the successful grant proposals. "Participants will learn about the college and financial aid application processes early on, and will be assisted through those processes in a detailed manner from start to finish."

Students accepted into either program would ideally begin their participation in the ninth grade. Successful completion of the programs requires students to stay involved through their senior year in high school. Admission is based on recommendations from educators, interviews with students and their parents or guardians, and a strong desire to attend college.

"Upward Bound will instill hope in our students, the one component that is often missing from their plans for the future," said Jefferson Principal Mary Andrecolich-Diaz. "We're telling them, 'We believe in you, the prestigious University of Rochester believes in you, and college is an option for you. You can do this.'"

While the programs will be run by the University and their activities will take place primarily in Rochester, participants will be introduced to colleges beyond their hometown. Students will have the chance to visit other campuses and listen to speakers from outside the University.

"For many of our less fortunate students, the Upward Bound program represents a ticket to the future," said Rep. Louise Slaughter, who was on hand at Jefferson for the announcement. "I strongly believe that attending college is an essential step to fulfilling the American dream, and with this program we are helping our young people achieve this important goal. I commend the University of Rochester and the Rochester City School District in working together on behalf of our kids, their futures, and our community."

Both programs are expected to begin accepting applications before the end of the calendar year, and notifying students of admission by the end of January. Coursework will begin shortly after, and the residential program will be up and running by summer.

"Congratulations to the university and the city school district for receiving this affirmation of the value of the Upward Bound program," Mayor Robert J. Duffy said. "I join you in thanking the U.S. Department of Education for helping us provide fundamental support to city students. This is yet another example of what a great partner the University of Rochester is to our city."

The Upward Bound programs will join other initiatives at the University designed to support the college aspirations of Rochester City School District students.

The Taste of College program waives tuition for 20 selected 11th- and 12th-graders from the district annually to enroll in a credited course in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Under another program, Rochester Scholars, the University invites high-achieving students in grades six through 12 to take noncredit minicourses in various areas of study.