Discover Your Island

Island University Receives $2.5M in Upward Bound Grants for High School Outreach

June 07, 2017


CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Not every high school student has equal means or opportunity to achieve a college education. That is why Texas A&M University-Corpus will be reaching out to the community through two new programs to give those high school students an opportunity that they wouldn’t otherwise receive. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi recently received two Upward Bound Program grants of $257,500 each per year for five-years from the United States Department of Education TRIO funding.

The grant money will be used to establish Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Upward Bound North Program (UBNP) and Upward Bound Central Program (UBCP). UBNP and UBCP will assist disadvantaged students in high school to prepare for higher education by improving retention, graduation rates and overall academic success of the target school students. The high schools selected include Foy H. Moody High School, West Oso High School, Roy Miller High School and Solomon Coles High School. According to Dr. Patricia Spaniol-Mathews, Executive Director for Programs for Academic Student Support (PASS) at A&M-Corpus Christi, the selected schools are from low-income areas in Corpus Christi and areas with low college graduation rates.

“The Upward Bound Grant competition was very competitive, so to receive two grants is very exciting,” said Spaniol-Mathews. “These grants will assist 120 students, so that they can reach their future goals of a college education. The programs encourage family and community involvement.”

UBNP and UBCP will become a part of the PASS programs at the Island University. PASS is comprised of federally and state funded programs that are designed to build a pathway to academic success. Upon application and acceptance, high school students will then receive an individual service plan (ISP) to suit their educational needs. From there, class levels and courses taken will be based upon their ISP. Grant funded staff will provide instructional services along with advising, tutoring and counseling— all services that the students wouldn’t have access to otherwise at this high level. In addition, participating students will receive guidance and mentoring from faculty and community members who come from similar backgrounds.

The funding will also provide support for students during the summer and the high school academic year, preparing participants for a college education. During the academic year, high school students will meet monthly for classes at the Island University. An emphasis will be placed on math, science, reading and writing. In addition, there will be workshops on wealth building, career choices, research and college life.

During the summer, there will be two programs available, including Summer Academy (SA) for six weeks and Bridge Experiences (BE). SA is for high school students who will be in the 10th, 11th or 12th grade in the fall. SA students will be taught classes by Island University faculty and Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) educators on campus. These students will also stay in the dorms for one week so that they can get an enhanced campus experience. SA students will also benefit from its small student-to-teacher ratio. The BE program is for students who have recently graduated high school and will attend college in the fall. These students will take at least two college summer session courses. The tuition, fees and books will be paid for by the grant. Participants will meet with their professors and UBNP and UBCP advisors at least three times a week to ease the transition from high school to college.

Spaniol-Mathews worked with CCISD and West Oso Independent School District principals and counselors to successfully gain the two grants. The grants and program signify the Island University’s continuing dedication to community involvement.

“We met some of the most caring and supportative high school counselors who work very hard to help their students succeed during the development of the grant proposals,” said Spaniol-Mathews. “These Upward Bound grants will assist them so that more low-income and first-generation students can be successful.”  

Leaders of UBNP and UBCP will meet regularly with leaders from community organizations and local social service agencies, such as the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, to discuss UBNP project’s objectives, services and participant eligibility requirements. Together, Spaniol-Mathews says, the UBNP aims to make differences and extend opportunities to future Islanders and other colleges throughout the community.

To learn more about the Island University’s PASS programs, go to