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Idaho State University TRIO receives two Upward Bound grants worth more than $3 Million

October 30, 2017
By Kirsten Cooper, MarCom CPI

POCATELLO – Higher education is a different language, and it is easy to hit roadblocks if you are not raised knowing how to navigate it. This is why Idaho State University’s TRIO program has renewed the Upward Bound and Upward Bound Math Science (UBMS) grants this year. Combined, the two grants provide more than $3 million of support for ISU students.

Sari Byerly headshotThe Upward Bound grant is the longest-running grant at ISU and is designed to help students prepare to enter college. The grant works with limited income, first generation students in grades 9 through 12.  

The UBMS grant is very similar to the Upward Bound grant. What sets it apart is that the UBMS grant specifically looks for first generation, limited-income students from underrepresented demographics who wish to pursue a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) degree. The grant received is more than $1.85 million worth of funding.

In addition to being run similarly, both of these grants are funded through the U.S. Department of Education.

By preparing participants for college from the times they are in high school, Upward Bound ensures that they are ready to face the challenges that college presents, said Sari Byerly, executive director of TRIO Access and Opportunity Programs. This year, the grant received $1.3 million worth of funding.

Byerly said that the office has staff at all participating high schools to help the students and provide after school tutoring. Additionally, all participants attend a seven-week residential program at ISU during the summer where they take courses that count for both high school and college credit.

This program differs depending on what year of school the participant is in. “The ninth- and 10th -grade programs focus on making sure the students have the core English, math and science courses before entering college. We also offer foreign language courses,” Byerly said.

The 11th -grade program provides a dual-credit program to further help students prepare for university coursework.

“In this program, students spend a half day working an internship with a professor or department depending on their major,” Byerly said. “For the second hailf of the day, they take a dual-credit class that gives them high school and college credit.”

According to Byerly, the application process for these grants is extremely rigorous due to the limited amount of spots available.

In addition to attending one of the target high schools and meeting the low- income, first- generation criteria, prospective students must complete a five-page application and submit a letter of recommendation from one of their teachers.

An interview and essay about why they want to do the program are required. To ensure they will attend the summer programs, they are required to meet with their advisors. 

Byerly said she is excited to continue to serve southeast Idaho students.

“I think that TRIO programs, especially Upward Bound, have become a cornerstone in this region because we’ve been funded since 1968,” Byerly said. “If you go out into the community and ask about TRIO, they’ll probably tell you about the Upward Bound grant because it’s the longest-standing.”

She said that the Upward Bound programs are invaluable to students, especially those who are first-generation.

“If I had unlimited amounts of money, I would say that every high school should have these programs because of the opportunities they provide for students,” she said. “If you’re coming from a first-generation home, these conversations about college preparation don’t just naturally happen around the dinner table. Even if they do, there is usually no discussion about the paperwork and processes involved.”

“As accommodating as universities try to be, our systems are not as people-friendly as they could be when thinking about an end user who doesn’t know any of that,” she continued. “TRIO employees receive annual training on FAFSA and the admission process to make sure we know how to help first-generation students. This is how we reach each new student population.”

The ISU TRIO programs encompass the mission to serve students, meeting them where they are at and providing students access and opportunity to education.

For more information, contact Byerly at (208) 282-3242 or





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