Program Seeks Partners at UVM, in Community for Hands-on Projects, Job Shadows

The University of Vermont’s TRIO Upward Bound program has received a supplemental grant from the U.S. Department of Education to boost academic programing in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) for students attending Winooski High School and Burlington High School from low income families or who are the first in their families to attend college.  

Upward Bound, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, has over 950 programs at colleges and universities across the country. Its goal is to spur college attendance among low income and first generation students.

“The STEM field offers strong job and career opportunities,” said Adam Hurwitz, director of UVM Upward Bound. “Upward Bound wants to ensure that the students we serve receive strong education and training in this area.”

UVM Upward Bound will use the $40,000 supplemental grant to purchase technology that will engage students in STEM study, from 3-D printers to Raspberry Pi computers to drones, and to hire two instructors.

The new grant dovetails with another STEM initiative recently undertaken by UVM’s Upward Bound program, Hurwitz said. Over the summer the university joined a consortium of 50 Upward Bound colleges implementing a three-year STEM curriculum called Teaching Through Technology, or T3, developed by the University of Alaska with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The T3 program provides students with a robust STEM curriculum and tech support for both instructors and students.

The supplemental grant is instrumental, Hurwitz said. “With the technology and the additional instructors, we'll be able to make the most of our partnership with T3.”

The Upward Bound STEM program will begin in the spring and be delivered via two classes per month offered on Saturdays and during school breaks. The program will  continue in the summer.

Program seeks partners to boost student engagement

Hurwitz also hopes to enlist partners, both at UVM and in the surrounding community, to help boost student engagement in the STEM curriculum, once the T3 program is up and running.

“A big piece of the curriculum is to find projects, in the community and here at UVM, where students can put into practice some of the STEM skills they’re learning in the classroom,” he said. Hurwitz has already launched an outreach effort to recruit potential partners.

He also hopes the program can incorporate STEM job shadows and other career exposure opportunities for students, which could be offered by UVM faculty and by area businesses.

UVM Upward Bound works with 63 students, from rising ninth graders to rising twelfth graders, at the two high schools. The program, which coordinates with the schools’ guidance counselors and teachers, offers tutoring, one-on-one counseling, career preparation and college readiness on site at the high schools and through a six-week summer academic program on the UVM campus. Each year at the end of the summer program, Upward Bound students visit colleges in cities like Boston and Washington, D.C. Rising seniors also work on their college essays and begin selecting potential colleges during the summer program.

Upward Bound programs at the other public colleges in the state work with other Vermont high schools with large low income and first generation student populations.

Upward Bound is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s TRIO program, created by the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965. It provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.


Jeffrey R. Wakefield