The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg has received a $1.3-million federal grant to establish the university’s new Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) Program that will be used to serve eligible people in a 10-county region.

According to a press release from UCM, the university's Department of Academic Enrichment received the funding earlier this month from the U.S. Department of Education for the TRIO program.

UCM says the funds can benefit veterans who are classified as underrepresented in higher education, and are first generation, low-income, and/or disability-challenged.

Veterans Upward Bound is designed to motivate and assist veterans in local communities, with the development of academic skills that are considered necessary for acceptance and success in a post-secondary program.

VUB is the third TRIO program offered at the university.  UCM says that unlike the 'Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program' and 'Student Support Services,' VUB serves individuals who are not enrolled at the university.

Chris Stockdale, a military veteran and chair of the Department of Academic Enrichment said, "The Veterans Upward Bound program provides assessment and enhancement of basic skills through counseling, mentoring, tutoring and academic instruction. The primary goal of the program is to increase the rate at which participants enroll in and complete postsecondary education programs.”

Stockdale continued by saying the total funding is over a 5-year period, with UCM receiving approximately $263,000 this year toward the total grant award. Every year, the university must successfully complete the renewal process to continue the program. UCM’ says the goal is to serve a total of 125 veterans per year from Benton, Carroll, Cooper, Henry, Johnson, Lafeyette, Morgan, Pettis, Ray and Saline counties.

“We’ve conducted a needs assessment and found about 20,000 veterans in those 10 counties who have not yet enrolled in postsecondary education,” Stockdale noted. “Some of them have not yet completed a high school diploma, and many of them are living at the poverty line.”

“The idea is that if we can get them signed up for our program, then we can start to figure out what are some of their educational goals. Those goals do not have to be at UCM,” he said, adding that veterans must choose the institution in which they want to pursue their college education.

The federal grant will help the university cover its expenses related to personnel needed to operate the program and other costs related to the VUB program and participant support.

For more information about the 'Veterans Upward Bound Program,' call 660-543-4061.

Kurt Parsons