Upward Bound, Springfield Promise partner for new program

Two community programs promoting local students’ academic success are partnering for a new venture.

The first inauguration of the Upward Bound Promise Ambassadors saw eight high school students enrolled in Wittenberg University’s Upward Bound program accept jobs to work for Springfield Promise Neighborhood starting in January 2019.

Upward Bound students will work with and mentor students in Promise Neighborhood elementary schools in the city’s south end.

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Upward Bound is a federally-funded pre-college preparatory program to motivate and provide extra academic skills for students from first-generation college and low income families interested in pursuing higher education.

Last spring, Upward Bound members wrote to participants in the Promise program proposing making a contribution.

Dr. Robert Welker, Springfield Promise’s co-executive director, resource development, said the next step was to find money to employ the Upward Bound students and spent this fall conceiving it.

“It’s one of the more exciting things I’ve been involved with in Promise,” Welker said. “We are thrilled by this opportunity, because these are fine Upward Bound students who will give back to their community and provide their own guidance to young people in Promise programs. It creates a sustainable mentoring loop and that builds the civic engagement Springfield requires as it moves forward.”

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Several of the students chosen are graduates of the elementary schools of the Springfield Promise Neighborhood’s Promise Zone including Fulton, Kenwood, Lincoln and Perrin Woods Elementaries.

The students, who range from freshmen to seniors, include Emma Adkins, Fred Almon, Destiny Barnes, Anahje Blakney, Anthony Byrd, Selah Crawford, Asha Vance and Dayshia White.

Requirements include maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA, prepare an essay, application and interviews.

The Upward Bound students will learn leadership skills, project planning and promoting Upward Bound at the same time, a prospect that pleases Upward Bound director Phyllis Swanigan and assistant director Cara Henry.

“It helps since a lot of our students came from Promise, giving back to younger students also developing their leadership skills,” Henry said.

Dayshia White, a Springfield High freshman, admits she wouldn’t be as outgoing as she is now if not for such programs. She’s excited to start her first job, motivated by working with kids and earning money.

“Upward Bound has helped me get out of the house and work harder, meeting people and not just sitting around being bored,” said White.

The students picked role models, such as teachers or family members who motivated them, brought them to the Dec. 7 inauguration at Wittenberg and introduced them at their various tables.

Dayshia White credited her uncle, Willie White, with pushing her academically from getting D’s in school to A’s and B’s. He mentioned Dayshia had to overcome health difficulties after being born.

The stories brought to tears of joy to those around the table.

While Dayshia is trying to figure whether to be a social worker or psychologist, the chance to start as an ambassador will make it easier to get there.

“We’re creating something we didn’t have before,” said Welker. “Now they are giving back to their community. There’s a lot of wins in that.”

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