In August 1964, in the midst of his administration's "War on Poverty," President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act. This legislation gave rise to the Office of Economic Opportunity and its Special Programs for Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds or, as they have since become more commonly known, the nation's TRIO programs.

As part of this statute, the first TRIO initiative, Upward Bound, came into existence, followed soon thereafter by Talent Search, which was created by the Higher Education Act of 1965. When the HEA was first reauthorized in 1968, it established TRIO's Student Support Services Program and transferred all of TRIO from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Higher Education Programs. When the HEA was reauthorized in 1972, the fourth TRIO program, Educational Opportunity Centers, was created. The expansion of TRIO's reach and outreach continued in 1976 with the creation of the TRIO Staff and Leadership Training Authority. The fifth TRIO program, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, was created in 1986. Most recently, in 1990, the U.S. Department of Education created the Upward Bound Math and Science Program, which is administered under the same regulations as other Upward Bound programs.


Upward Bound helps youth prepare for higher education. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, and science on college campuses after school, on Saturdays, and during the summer.

Currently, 964 projects are in operation throughout the United States.

In 2005, 77.3 percent of all students who participated in Upward Bound programs immediately went to college in the fall following their high school graduations. This rate is even higher by persistence in the program; 91.2 percent of Upward Bound students who participated in the program for three years or longer and 93 percent who participated through high school graduation enrolled in a postsecondary program immediately following high school.

Upward Bound targets youth between 13 and 19 years old (grades 9 through 12) who have experienced low academic success. High school students from low-income families whose parents have not earned a bachelor's degree or military veterans with only a high school degree are eligible to participate. The program's goal is to increase the rates at which the targeted students enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions by providing fundamental support such as help with the college admissions process and assistance in preparing for college entrance examinations.

It engages participating students in an extensive, multi-year program designed to provide academic, counseling, and tutoring services along with a cultural enrichment component, all of which enhance their regular school program prior to entering college. Most Upward Bound programs also provide participants with a college experience through a five- to eight-week, summer program at a postsecondary institution. The summer experience is reinforced with weekly tutorial and mentoring services during the school year.