ETSU TRiO programs having major community impact 

Published 12:36 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

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Students in the East Tennessee State University TRiO Upward Bound Program have engaged in five major community service projects in the 2023-24 school year, a reflection of the university’s commitment to improve the quality of life for the people of the region and beyond. The program encourages volunteering as a form of giving back to the community and exploring different career paths.

Upward Bound, a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Education, is an academic support program designed to increase high school students’ opportunities to attend college. The program serves local qualifying students through academic instruction, tutoring, counseling, mentoring, cultural enrichment activities and, of course, community service. 

“As a former Upward Bound student myself, one of the many things that Upward Bound helps students with is giving exposure to things that you may have never even thought of. The community partners I have been able to collaborate with have been amazing and have ensured that every student has a chance to participate without going far from home,” said Amanda Worley, now a College Access coordinator for TRiO and the Upward Bound program.

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Volunteering allows students to gain knowledge and skills about different jobs, an easy way to try out different careers. Community service also increases college scholarship eligibility.

“It was hard for me to find volunteer opportunities in my area alone, but Upward Bound created those opportunities and connections for me,” said Abby Rowland, a senior at Dobyns-Bennett High School.

In mid-November last year, the Upward Bound program served at Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee in Kingsport. Students assisted other volunteers in packing 7,000 food boxes for local families that Thanksgiving.

That December, students helped with Samaritan’s Purse for Operation Christmas Child in Boone, N.C., packing shoeboxes for children worldwide. The program also returned to Second Harvest Food Bank to pack 500 food bags for more local families. 

On Feb. 17, the program held a Regional Day of Service, allowing students from across the region to focus on their specific communities for service. Volunteer opportunities included invasive plant removal at Roan Mountain State Park, activities with Mountain City Care and Rehab Center residents and caring for animals at local shelters.

Last month, Upward Bound students gathered in downtown Johnson City to assist in the Shamrock Shuffle race, which benefits the Southern Appalachian Ronald McDonald House.

“Upward Bound is an amazing program that has helped me to become more connected and involved in my community. This program and the people behind the scenes have created a way for students to participate in several different community service projects, and through them, I have been able to meet some truly incredible people,” said Bailey Moss, a junior at Hampton High School.  

Engaging in community service not only fosters the personal development of students but also encourages them to become active and respected members of their community.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for the students who are committed to and are willing to give their time to contribute to their community. The students are excellent role models for other young people,” shared Ronnie D. Gross, executive director of TRIO Programs.

ETSU’s TRiO programs, regularly recognized for success, have secured impressive grant funding in recent years.  

To learn more about the Upward Bound program and to apply, visit their website.