Upward Bound Celebrates 40th Anniversary
For 40 years, Wesleyan’s Upward Bound Program
has prepared hundreds of underrepresented local youth for college by
providing rigorous academic summer experiences, motivational "boot camps”,
college visits and assistance with the challenging college application and
financial application processes.
On Nov. 10, Upward Bound will celebrate its 40th anniversary inside
Wesleyan's newly renovated Fayerweather Building in the Edgar F. Beckham
Hall. Beckham was one of the Upward Bound founders, and along with Willard
McRae and others, they had a vision that local, low income students should
have the opportunity to consider the college dream.
“Upward Bound has been empowering eligible youth to pursue their dream of a
higher education,” says Donna Thompson, ’80, Upward Bound project director.
“Students receive so many negative messages from peers and adults saying
‘you can’t’ or ‘you don’t belong.’ We create a culture of challenging
academic expectations and expect students to push themselves continuously.”
Thompson says many students confess that initially, they secretly believed
that college was not a possibility for them.
“As they are the first in their families to consider college, our students
become trailblazers for their extended families and friends,” she says.
“Through intensive leadership development experiences and self-directed
learning activities, coupled with high expectations from a committed staff,
students gradually realize and demonstrate that their dreams can become
More than 80 percent of the students who begin the four-year commitment
continue with the program compared with a 60 percent retention rate
nationally. Between 90 and 95 percent enroll in college and graduate at
significantly higher rates then their peers.
The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education,
the Connecticut Department of Education and the boards of education of the
Middletown, Meriden and Portland Schools. In addition, Upward Bound has
received supplemental funding from the Liberty Bank Foundation and other
“We are grateful for the many supporters and cheerleaders in the community
who have believed in our mission over the years,” Thompson says.
The Wesleyan Upward Bound 40th Anniversary Gala will be held from 6 to 10
p.m. Nov. 10 in Beckham Hall. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for
Wesleyan students and children, and $40 for Wesleyan faculty, staff and the
For more information go to
or call 860-685-3194.