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University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound

  • University of Pennsylvania Upward Bound
  • 220 S. 40th Street
    Suite 260
  • Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • 215-898-3185
  • Shesheena A. Bray
  • Counselor
  • 215-898-3185

Program Description

The University of Pennsylvania High School Upward Bound Program is a college preparatory program designed to motivate and prepare students in the program for the successful pursuit of a four-year college education. The goal of the program is to increase the rate at which low-income, first-generation-to-college students enroll in and graduate from a college or university with a bachelor's degree. The mission of the program is to provide high school students in grades 9th - 12th, at the identified high schools, with academic, career and cultural enrichment resources and programming to assist students to graduate from high school and increase the rate at which low income, first generation college students matriculate and graduate from post-secondary institutions. The Upward Bound program is funded by the U. S. Department of Education, under Title IV of the Higher Education Act known as a TRIO, program to serve 105 students. The program is administered under the Vice Provost for University Life's Office of Equity and Access Programs.

The program seeks students that are committed to their education and are highly motivated in their pursuit of attaining a college education and achieving their career and professional goals. Students must be from one of the five Philadelphia public high schools with which we partner to be eligible to apply. To qualify, students must be from a low-income and/or first-generation-to-college background and in the 9th or 10th grade at the time of their application. Parents of Upward Bound students are strongly encouraged to become involved in all aspects of their child's participation, including attending meetings of the Upward Bound Parent Association.

Students may enroll starting in the ninth grade through graduation from high school. The program is year-round for a maximum of four years per student. On average, 98%-100% of University of Penn Upward Bound students are accepted at and attend college.

Success Stories

Michael has been a participant in the Upward Bound program since he was a freshman in high school. When he interviewed in March 2009 to join the program, he noted that while he had his own reasons for wanting to attend college, his most salient reason was to be a role model for his younger sisters. As a first-generation student, it is very important to Michael to be the first one in his family to attend college. When asked what he is looking for in a college or university, he laughs & says: "Good food! But seriously, I'd like to go somewhere I can expand my knowledge on certain topics, experience what's out there in the world, and develop new friendships and networks." Now a senior, Michael will be attending Bloomsburg University in the fall.

Michael reflects on his last four years in the program saying: "If it wasn't for [Upward Bound] I would not have been thinking about college so early in my high school career. The information [the program] has provided me has been really beneficial." His most memorable part of his participation in the program was the week-long college tour to Virginia & DC in 2010. Michael noted that the trip is one of the many examples of how Upward Bound has offered him an opportunity to focus on college preparation and visit out-of-state schools with which he otherwise would not be familiar, while also providing time to relax and develop an appreciation for cultural activities such as the performing arts and national museums.

Michael worked diligently this past year to get into the colleges of his choice; Michael was accepted to 5 colleges and will be attending Bloomsburg University in fall 2012.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Arts and cultural
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Mentoring
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation


Race & Ethnicity

  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 3%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 2%
  • African American: 95%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 105
  • Middle School: 0
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 0
  • Non-traditional: 0


  • More than 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • College of St Joseph
  • Delaware State University
  • Drexel University
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • Haverford College
  • Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
  • Lincoln University
  • Lock Haven University
  • Middlebury College
  • Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  • Penn State University
  • Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Temple University
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • West Chester University of Pennsylvania
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 98%
  • 4-yr College Graduation: 98%