Upward Bound renewal boosts college access in the Yakima Valley

A Yakima Valley College program that is increasing access to higher education in local communities has received a five-year extension of funding from the U.S. Department of Education to continue its work.

The $2.74 million grant to YVC’s Upward Bound program will enable it to serve 110 students annually from the Granger, Sunnyside, Toppenish and Wapato school districts. Students entering grades 9 through 12 are eligible if they are from low-income households or would be the first in their immediate family to attend college.

Catalina Alvarez-Villanueva, YVC Upward Bound director, said the extension of funding is significant for the Yakima Valley region, which has been served by the program for more than 40 years.

“YVC’s Upward Bound program is the second largest in the state of Washington,” Alvarez-Villanueva said. “I am excited that we will be able to serve students and families in our partner communities for the next five years as I have seen how Upward Bound is able to positively change the lives of students and their families.”

Upward Bound assists students in their pursuit of a high school diploma and prepares them to enter and complete a post-secondary education program. Eligible students receive year-round support including tutoring, academic advising, after-school workshops, SAT/ACT test preparation, career and cultural exploration opportunities, college tours and financial stipends.

In addition, a six-week Summer Residential Program allows students to gain real-life experience with the academic and social aspects of living and studying on a college campus. Students receive instruction in YVC classrooms and enroll in language arts, math, foreign language, lab science and elective classes that can allow them to earn both high school and college credit.

Alvarez-Villanueva noted those supports are important for successfully navigating the college application and enrollment process. That process can be overwhelming, especially for those who would be the first in their family to attend college.

“Upward Bound is a unique program that allows us to serve students holistically and work closely with our schools to provide additional support services to participants,” Alvarez-Villanueva said. “For our Upward Bound students, this support can make a crucial difference in their ability to successfully enroll in college.”

Over the last five years, 82% of YVC Upward Bound students enrolled in post-secondary education after high school, compared to a national average of 50% at high schools served by Upward Bound. In addition, 64% of Hispanic students in YVC’s Upward Bound program went on to complete college, compared to a national average of 36%.

Lissaundra Caridad of Sunnyside High School said knowing Upward Bound staff were there to answer whatever questions she had was invaluable.

“I really loved how they checked in asking questions about applications for college or recommended different things,” Caridad said. “Although sometimes I felt stressed knowing there were more things I had to do with the college application process, it felt much easier knowing I was being helped by many people along the way.”

Caridad also took classes at YVC through Running Start and graduates with her associate degree in nursing this June. Next fall, she’ll enroll at Heritage University to work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Samuel Reyes of Toppenish High School entered the Upward Bound program in 9th grade and said the Summer Residential Program was particularly helpful.

“The first time I went in person in between freshmen and sophomore year was a great learning experience not just educationally, but also for getting a feeling of college life,” said Reyes, who will pursue a degree at YVC after graduating from high school this June. “I can’t thank UB enough for all the help I’ve received through my high school years.”

Visit the Upward Bound webpage to learn more about the program and how to apply.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu