For the second year in a row, Central College has received a grant from the John Deere Foundation to support the college’s long-standing Upward Bound program to help low-income, potential first-generation college students achieve academic success.
Upward Bound, a national program funded through an award from the United States Department of Education, supports eligible students in developing the aspiration, knowledge and skills needed to successfully enter and complete postsecondary education. The program at Central serves 190 high school participants annually with academic advising, college preparatory curriculum, tutoring, college visits ACT preparation and assistance with college and financial aid applications. Every summer about 150 students come to the Central campus from area high schools to attend a six-week summer program to sample college life. The program is free to students, including tuition, room and board, lodging on field trips, transportation and entry or ticket fees for events.
“The John Deere grant offers Upward Bound students amazing connections to quality interactions with professionals in a corporate setting,” says Louise Esveld, Central’s director of pre-college programs and Upward Bound director. “We are grateful to John Deere for helping these students begin to imagine what work life can be like.”
The grant from John Deere provides funding for four different opportunities within Central’s Upward Bound program. The grant will:
- Allow 60 students going into their junior year in high school to participate in a career readiness course at the John Deere Financial headquarters in Johnston and John Deere Des Moines Works factory in Ankeny.
- Provide common reading books for all Central Upward Bound participants and offset the costs of bringing a convocation speaker to the Central campus during its summer program.
- Support a field trip for 45 junior participants to explore careers. Students will meet professionals in their workplace and visit a college or university to meet with faculty and students to learn about majors and programs of study associated with their career interests.
- Underwrite a skill-building conference for high school seniors that focuses on topics such as attending college, financial readiness, emotional intelligence and career readiness.
A goal of the John Deere Foundation is to increase secondary school graduation rates of at-risk youth in John Deere’s home communities.
“In 2017, more than 30 John Deere Des Moines volunteers helped Central Upward Bound students identify their core values, explore career interests and prepare for job interviews. It was remarkable to see the level of transformation with each student and the lifelong relationships established with our volunteers,” says Callie Kramer, citizenship coordinator at John Deere Financial.
“John Deere has been a wonderful supporter of Central College. We’re thrilled to have their continued support as we work to help today’s youth succeed in their pre-college performance and ultimately in their pursuit of a higher education. This program literally changes lives,” says Michelle Wilkie, corporate relations and major gifts officer in Central’s advancement office.
The Upward Bound program at Central College recently celebrated its 50th year on campus and is one of three pre-college programs supported by a collaborative team of professional teachers and counselors who work directly with high school student participants. Through partnerships with schools served in Des Moines, Eddyville, Oskaloosa and Pella, the Central College community empowers students to recognize their potential, maximize opportunities and use acquired skills to attain a post-secondary degree. More information about Central’s pre-college programs is available at www.central.edu/pre-college.