GVSU receives grants to establish two TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science programs in Detroit, Wyoming

Grand Valley is proving its commitment to increasing access to education with the addition of two TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science programs to serve high school students in Wyoming and Detroit, helping them to strengthen their STEM skills.

GVSU now has 11 federal TRIO programs, the most of any Michigan college or university that houses these programs. When the two new Upward Bound Math-Science programs are operational, GVSU’s 11 programs will serve 2,483 people in Grand Rapids and Detroit. Grants from the U.S. Department of Education for Grand Valley's TRIO programs total $17.4 million over five years.

TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science programs serve high school students from low-income families and those who would be first-generation college students. Nykia Gaines, assistant vice president for federal TRIO programs, said the Wyoming Upward Bound Math-Science program will serve 60 students in Kelloggsville and Lee high schools. The Upward Bound Math-Science program in Detroit will serve 60 students in University Preparatory Academy, University Prep Science and Math, and University Prep Art and Design. All three are among the charter schools authorized by GVSU.

drone photo of Allendale Campus, flag circle at bottom right, carillon tower in upper left
GVSU now has 11 federal TRIO programs, the most of any Michigan college or university that houses these programs.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

"We are increasing our physical presence in Wyoming, right in the university's backyard, and increasing our exposure in the Detroit area," Gaines said. "Upward Bound students can choose to go to any college, and they are prepared to do so. Hopefully by participating in all the opportunities we will offer through these programs, many of these Upward Bound students will choose GVSU."

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said these two new programs give Grand Valley a full compilation of TRIO programs, demonstrating the university's commitment to first-generation students and advancing educational equity.

"TRIO program staff members work right in the high schools, providing tutoring and other programs to students," Truss said. "It's a proactive college-going model that introduces learners to higher education at an early age and equips them with readiness skills.

"It also connects them to TRIO professionals who are, in most cases, first-generation college students themselves. We believe this increases the students' chances to be successful in college. The value of a college degree is extremely high over a lifetime and we want learners in our backyard to know it.”

TRIO serves all ages

From middle school to college and beyond, Grand Valley houses a TRIO program to assist people of all ages, including one that helps underrepresented or first-generation undergraduate students who want to pursue doctoral degrees.

The McNair Scholars program serves 34 students. Dantya Jennings, program director, began working at Grand Valley in late February. One of her immediate tasks was to write a grant renewal for the program. It was successful: a five-year, $300,082 grant kicked off its cycle in October. 

Jennings is now in the recruitment stage, searching for students who are in their sophomore year and interested in an intensive summer research experience with a faculty mentor.

Dantya Jennings, McNair Scholars program director, gives remarks at the Summer Scholars Showcase at the DeVos Center. There is a projected screen behind her, she is standing at a podium.
Dantya Jennings, McNair Scholars program director, gives remarks at the Summer Scholars Showcase at the DeVos Center.
Image credit - Kris Bird
Jessie Webb is a senior who is giving a presentation at Loosemore Auditorium.
Senior Jessie Webb gives a presentation during the Summer Scholars Showcase. Webb is a McNair Scholar.
Image credit - Kris Bird

"McNair is about getting our name out and keeping the interest high. We need to get students to think about what it would be like to earn a Ph.D," Jennings said.

Jennings herself was a TRIO student. During high school, she participated in a TRIO Upward Bound program. "I have a passion to help first-generation students succeed," Jennings said.

Jessie Webb is a senior who is participating in the McNair Scholars program. An English and education major, Webb plans to teach for a few years then begin a doctoral program in teaching and curriculum development, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom. 

"As a first-generation college student, college was definitely a foreign subject for my parents," Webb said. "Being in a program like McNair has prepared me and helped me understand how to be most successful in graduate school. I have composed personal statements, written a resume and engaged in research.

"Studying subjects around equity and social justice has helped me better understand my own students in my classroom, but also it is going to set me up for success in the future."


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