College program offers new resources for low-income high school students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Fisk University has announced the return of a federally funded program that helps underserved high school students graduate and prepare for college.

Among several institutions, Fisk University was one of many selected for the award of the grant by the Ministry of Education for five years. According to Fisk’s press release, the university will partner with Nashville-area high schools to stem academic retardation rates for students from low-income backgrounds.

“This is truly great news for the entire Fisk University community,” said Fisk University President Dr. Vann R. Newkirk, Sr. hasn’t run an Upward Bound program in the last two decades, that’s a tremendous achievement.”

The program is receiving $1.4 million to be used over the next five years. The university has been involved in the program for 25 years. They were one of 17 colleges to participate in the Upward Bound pilot program in 1965.

Fisk University graduate Frank Simmons was part of the program when he attended high school in Florida.

“My family just didn’t have the resources or the assets that would have allowed me to go to college without some type of help,” Simmons said.

Simmons says attending this program prompted him to attend Fisk University.

“I was asked to participate in the Upward Bound program which allowed me to access the FAMU campus during the summer and take college courses and exposure to college life,” Simmons said.

Upward Bound Proposal Developer and Special Assistant Dr. Kenneth Jones leads the program which will begin in September 2022. During a Zoom interview, Jones shared the different facets of the program and how it will benefit eligible high school students. .

“Educational counseling and preparation for college entrance exams, parenting support, financial aid planning, and financial literacy,” Jones said.

Jones believes the program will also increase graduation success. They will work with more than two dozen students from Antioch High School.

“We will work with 60 high school students at a time. But I can tell you, if we can graduate anywhere near those 60 students after they come through our program, that says a lot,” Jones said.

Fisk University alumnus and board member Simmons believes the program’s return will benefit as many high school students as it has benefited him.

“I immediately called the president of the university and said this was probably the most dynamic thing we could have done in a long time, because it allows children who may never have the opportunity to go to college to be exposed to the concept of going and furthering their education,” Simmons said.

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