Upward Bound

A TRIO Program at ACU

The Abilene Christian University Upward Bound Program provides low income and first-generation high school students with academic, cultural and personal support for the purposes of high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment and lifelong success.

The Abilene Christian University Upward Bound Program provides low income and first-generation high school students with academic, cultural and personal support for the purposes of high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment and lifelong success.

Main Content

The goal of Upward Bound is to help participants complete high school and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

Abilene Christian University’s Upward Bound Program, in collaboration with local area high schools, guides, empowers and educates students to become future social leaders ready to self-advocate, think critically, and succeed in a diverse and global society.


Who We Serve

  • Students enrolled in grades 9-12 at Abilene High School, Cooper High School and ATEMS
  • Students whose parent(s) have not completed a bachelor’s degree (first-generation student)
  • Students who show an academic need and are recommended by a teacher or counselor
  • Students whose family show financial need

Academic Support Sessions

Students receive four hours of academic support weekly on ACU’s campus. These sessions allow students to complete homework, improve skills in core subject areas, prepare for standardized tests and participate in college/career readiness activities. Upward Bound offers transportation to the university campus and to participating students’ homes.

College Connection Thursdays

Students participate in bi-monthly Thursday gatherings to allow scholars from all participating schools to interact and learn with each other. Sessions cover group dynamics, college spotlights, scholarships, test prep, professional speaker series and how to develop good habits and skills to succeed in the classroom. Transportation to and from the events is available.

Summer Academy

The Summer Academy, a six-week academic program providing instruction in English/language arts, science, mathematics, SAT/ACT prep and a variety of elective courses, offers a commuter and residential component. The commuter program is available to all grade levels.

The residential program, held at Abilene Christian University, is for upperclassmen. Scholars experience college life by living in a residence hall. Evening activities are scheduled to enhance each scholar’s academic and interpersonal skills. Qualified students will participate in five-week career observations of a professional in the career field of their interest.

Summer Bridge

Students in the Summer Residential Program may participate in the college bridge component. This bridge allows scholars to enroll in one college course offered during Summer Session One to gain an understanding of college courses and expectations.

College Visits

Upward Bound provides students with local college visits during the academic year. During Summer Academy, students may be a part of an all-expense paid trip to different public and private institutions, allowing each student to gain a sense of preference in a postsecondary school. With each visit, students are better able to make more informed choices about where to attend college.

NOTE: Student must be willing to attend our six-week Summer Residential Program in June and July.

Application Process

  1. Complete the application found at the button below. Make sure to review the checklist page.
  2. Submit the application with ALL required documents.
  3. We will contact you to schedule a student and parent interview.
  4. We will mail a letter within three weeks to let you know if you have been accepted into the program.

Application Form

  • Freshman student enrolled at Abilene, Cooper or ATEMS high school
  • First-generation college student: student’s biological parent(s) did not complete a bachelor’s degree
  • Student shows an academic need and is recommended by a teacher or a counselor
  • Student’s family shows financial need

Fill out the application and send it to us one of four ways:

  1. Submit at designated school
  2. Fax to Upward Bound at 325-674-2898
  3. Mail to 1695 Campus Court, ACU Box 29206, Abilene, TX 79601
  4. Email as attachment to upwardbound@groupmail.acu.edu

*Call our office at 325-674-2448 before emailing or faxing and with any application questions.

Our Expectations

Student Participation

Students are required to attend academic support services for the entire academic year. Students that miss sessions for any reason must have a parent contact UB staff as soon as possible.

Attendance is monitored at ALL Upward Bound events, including tutoring sessions, College Connection Thursday and college visits. While other commitments and issues may arise, students must keep Upward Bound staff informed.

If a participant’s attendance is not 90% at all events, without proper documentation, they will not be allowed to attend educational excursions and membership will be evaluated for possible exit.

Upward Bound Staff

Dustin West
(325) 674-2448

Educational Coordinator
Jennifer Valenzuela
(325) 674-2514

Academic Development Advisor
Alexis Royal
(325) 674-2713

Contact Us

Upward Bound Program
Abilene Christian University
1695 Campus Court
Abilene, Texas 79601
Phone: 325-674-2448
Email: upwardbound@groupmail.acu.edu
Fax: 325-674-2898

Office Hours
8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Upward Bound began at ACU in 1995 and continues to serve Abilene ISD’s students. There are two components to the Upward Bound Program: 1) the academic year which consists of SAT and ACT test preparation, tutoring, college connection and college tours; and 2) a six-week Summer Academy with Summer Bridge course for graduated seniors.


Here are some useful resources to assist Upward Bound scholars. These links direct you to websites that help prepare students for the college admissions process.

African American Scholarships

Asian American Scholarships

Hispanic Scholarships

Native American Scholarship