New program will help low-income HS seniors continue dream of college

Community rallies to raise $400,000 after losing federal grant

SAN ANTONIO – It is being called a second chance with the opportunity for improvement.

Earlier this year, Upward Bound, a South San Antonio High School program that prepared first-generation students from low-income families for college, was cut due to a lack of funding.

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Now a similar program will help those students with their college dreams.

The students were surprised and overwhelmed with enthusiasm on Tuesday.

A new, yet to be named program, is the reason many of the students will be the first in their families to experience college.

"For me it helped with my college applications,” senior Jessica Guardado said. “It helped me get ready for my SAT, ACT (and) subject tests. It also helped me develop as a person and getting use to the college environment."

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The previous program came with a $400,000 federal grant. Due to funding cuts, however, that grant went away in August.

"I cried for like four days straight because they think it's just a program, but I built a second family there and it really, really hurt when it ended," Sky Bela said.

Upward Bound was around for 20 years and helped hundreds of students achieve their dreams.

The biggest difference between UB and the new program is that the money for it will be coming from the community. Students will also have more of a say on what they believe is important.

Melissa Kazen, executive vice president of Communities in Schools of San Antonio, said the community came together after the money was lost.

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"They had worked since they were freshman and now they were just entering their senior year and no longer were they supported but our community was very resilient and our students rallied," she said.

The funding allows students like Guardado to pick and choose their favorite colleges.

"I would have to go with Notre Dame and Rice, but I got admitted to (Texas A&M in) College Station and UT-Austin," she said.

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