UNCW to Serve Area High School Students With $1M Grant for New Upward Bound Math and Science Program

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

UNCW will receive $1.1 million in federal funding to establish the Seahawk Upward Bound Math and Science Program, an intervention effort designed to help high school students in southeastern North Carolina in math and science while also supporting them to pursue college and careers in STEM.  

The only new Upward Bound project in the state of North Carolina funded this cycle by the U.S. Department of Education, the Seahawk UBMS program is part of the federal TRIO Programs, outreach and student services initiatives designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

Dr. Lowell Davis, UNCW vice chancellor for student affairs, spearheaded the project proposal and received a perfect score. 

“I strongly believe that as an institution of higher education with tremendous resources, we should serve the community in which our students live and learn,” said Dr. Davis. “This is not only a way to fill a void for so many students who have academic promise yet need additional support and resources to excel, but also a direct way to move the needle for graduation rates and end-of-year benchmark scores for local high schools.” 

Seahawk UBMS will target two Wilmington-area schools for services: New Hanover High School and North Brunswick High School. A recent UNCW survey found that nearly 80% of students at these schools demonstrated interest in pursuing STEM-related academic programs and careers.   

Most students at NHHS and NBHS face typical barriers that researchers say prevent students from excelling in math and science. Among the barriers: low standardized test scores, GPAs and attendance rates; high dropout rates and student-to-counselor ratios; and lack of math and science school resources. 

The UNCW Upward Bound Math and Science Program plans to identify, recruit and select 60 eligible students per year from these target high schools. UNCW students and staff will serve these students at their high schools every week, Monday through Thursday, with tutoring and college preparatory workshops. Twice a month, UNCW will bring the high school students to campus for “Saturday Academy” for a range of college-related programming, like ACT and SAT preparation classes, college admissions and financial aid workshops, and field trips to visit other colleges and universities. 

“This grant will not only make a difference for low-income and first-generation students in New Hanover and Brunswick counties, it will also create enhanced applied learning opportunities for UNCW students,” Dr. Davis said.  

Davis added that the program has the potential to increase diversity at UNCW.  

“Through the Upward Bound program, we are exposing a diverse student population to college at an early age, bringing them to campus and hopefully helping them realize attending college here at UNCW is an attainable option.” 

-- Krissy Vick