SPC Upward Bound program receives five-year grant


LEVELLAND – South Plains College recently received a five-year grant for $1,494,715 ($298,943 annually) to fund its program. 

SPC Upward Bound will continue to assist low-income and first-generation-college students successfully complete high school, enroll in post-secondary education and complete certificate programs and/or degree programs. The program currently serves 70 students in grades ninth through twelfth in Brownfield, Morton, Levelland, Whitharral and Whiteface. 

According to Chris Riley, Upward Bound Director, the UB program continues to fill the need in the community to help low-income, first-generation students obtain a college education. 

Since its inception in 2003, Upward Bound has served 388 students including 25 new students who started the program in May. Of the 292 students who participated in UB, 262 students graduated from high school or 89.7 percent. Approximately 71 percent of the graduates enrolled in post-secondary education with 63 percent graduating. 

“The first success is that they must graduate high school – whether they finish our program or not,” Riley said. 

Riley said 74 participants completed the UB program by graduating and participating in the Bridge Program. Seventy-two of the 74 (97 percent) enrolled again after experiencing the summer bridge program. The bridge program is a six-week residential program on the South Plains College campus. The students attend classes for five weeks with the last week filled with a summer trip. This year, the UB students will travel to West Texas State University in Canyon; Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla.; Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Okla.; and the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Okla., to experience college life on other campuses.

Seniors in the program often complete internships or job shadows during the summer. 

During the fall and spring semesters, UB hosts Saturday classes at SPC. The classes focus on study skills, time management, career paths, tutoring and building better students. 

Riley added that students must maintain a “B” average in their coursework or attend mandatory tutoring. Two years ago, the program expanded to include a reading program aimed at helping students read at their grade level. 

“We are so blessed to have the support of our institution and administrators,” Riley said. “We could not have the success we do without the support of the many wonderful people on campus.” 

“We’re really grateful for the support and commitment assisting that helps us to change the future for the young people we serve,” he said.  

Upward Bound is part of the TRIO Programs which was created in 1965 to assist low income or disadvantaged students enter, graduate and move on to participate fully in America’s society.


Program Numbers

Students currently enrolled in the program for 2016-17                               51

Total 388 students have been served since 2003.


Graduation Numbers

Certificate of Proficiency                                                                                25

Associate Degrees Only                                                                                  12

Associate Degree and Certificates                                                                    8

Certificate/Associate/Bachelor’s                                                                      2

Bachelor’s Only                                                                                                9


Riley said he continues to keep track of former students. The U.S. Department of Education gives students six years to earn an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, he said. While some students will stop out of college, many return to college years later. Riley said those returning students often will contact him to let him know that they’re back in school. 

“I try to give them support and encouragement as well as credit them as Upward Bound successes,” he said.  

For more information, contact Riley at (806) 716-2651.