MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. (WHNT) – At Northwest Shoals Community College a program designed to help high school students become the first in their family to get a college degree has gotten a funding boost.

For the 2022-2023 fiscal year, the TRIO Upward Bound program has received $764,953 in funding, an increase of over 13% from the previous year by the U.S Department of Education.

“The Upward Bound Program, along with the other TRIO programs, are so important to the students in the communities we serve,” said NW-SCC President Dr. Jeff Goodwin. “These programs offer academic and support services to help remove barriers that hinder students from pursuing a postsecondary education. Without these programs, many students would not be able to realize their dream of a college degree.”

The program at the Phil Campbell campus will receive $439,973 to help students at Belgreen, Haleyville, Muscle Shoals, Phil Campbell, Red Bay, Russellville, Tharptown and Vina high schools.

TRIO Upward Bound provides five years of funding to help 158 students between 9th and 12th grades from the Shoals area work towards a two-year or four-year college degree. These students will be the first in their families to graduate college and come from lower-income backgrounds.

While the Shoals Campus will receive $324,980 in funding to help students at Central, Colbert County, Colbert Heights, Florence, Lexington, Rogers, Sheffield and Wilson high schools. The program also helps students at the Florence Freshman Center.

NW-SCC Public Information Officer Trent Randolph told News 19 that they have seen a lot of success with this program in the past.

“If you’re a first-generation college student and you don’t have that parent or guardian to kind of guide you through the process, it can be very overwhelming,” Randolph said. “We want to expose them and give them as many tools as we can s they’re not overwhelmed and they’re ready when that time comes.”

The program offers free tutoring and academic advisement. They also work to expose students to new career fields.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 86% of Upward Bound participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. 

Students who would like to apply for the Upward Bound program can do so here or by contacting Upward Bound Manager Dr. Amber McCown on the Phil Campbell campus at 256-331-8128 or Upward Bound Manager Dr. Jamie Flanagan on the Shoals campus at 256-331-5356.