When students dream

Group of students sit outside

Northern Arizona University’s Upward Bound program was recently awarded a 5-year, $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to continue its long-standing work with high school students in northern Arizona. Upward Bound is a federal TRIO program that has been serving first-generation college-bound low-income high school students since 1977 and has continuously provided student services. The grant will provide support, services and programming in accordance with the grant proposal submitted in January. During the 5-year grant cycle, Upward Bound will serve 98 students per year from four area high schools: Coconino, Flagstaff, Williams and Winslow high schools. 

Upward Bound was successful in acquiring grant funding because of its proven results in the past 45 years in areas including participant grade point average, proficiency on state standardized tests, retention, completion of a rigorous secondary school program, graduation rate, enrollment in a postsecondary institution and completion of a postsecondary degree within six years. These metrics are key in evaluating the program and measuring participant success.  

“As a first-generation student I had no idea of what the college process was like. All I really knew was that I wanted to go to college,” said Elizabeth, a current Upward Bound participant and high school senior who learned about the program as a freshman. “Ever since I joined Upward Bound, my high school experience has been epic. It is not just another program … the people in Upward Bound are my family. I have made such unforgettable memories, including going on college tours, visiting Washington, D.C., attending the summer academy on the NAU campus and connecting with amazing people. Upward Bound has been such a valuable opportunity that has made my process in preparing for college so much easier.” 

Diana Betoney, assistant director of Student Life at NAU, oversees Upward Bound. She has seen thousands of students benefit from the program since she first started working with the program in 2002. She is committed to giving students the opportunity to pursue and succeed in college regardless of who they are and from where they come. 

“Over the years, multiple Upward Bound staff members have assisted students and their parents/guardians with the college planning process. Students receive year-round assistance, and gain the knowledge, skills, experiences and exposure they need to continue their education to pursue their college degree(s),” Betoney said. “My life dream continues to be to assist, guide and support as many students as possible to realize their dreams and to continue to open the door to post-secondary education!” 

NAU Communications