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Upward Bound program to receive $5,000 from IDOT prize money

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Upward Bound program will receive $5,000 in award money, thanks to the Illinois Department of Transportation winning the grand prize in the 2019 America’s Transportation Awards, which is the top honor for state departments of transportation.

IDOT secured the prize because of its joint effort with the Missouri Department of Transportation to improve mobility and access throughout the Metro East region. The award marks the second consecutive year IDOT has won the distinction, presented at the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials annual meeting in St. Louis. IDOT’s portion of the prize was $5,000.

“We at the SIUE East St. Louis Center are thrilled that IDOT selected our Upward Bound program to be a recipient of the award money,” said ESLC Executive Director Tim Staples (shown). “We have great plans for the money, and they all entail better serving the young people in our program.

“I am an alumnus of the SIUE Upward Bound program,” continued Staples. “I am well aware of the benefits and tools the program gives to low-income, first-generation college students.”

“We are helping to change the lives of our students for the better,” added Keith Ware, EdD, UB program director. “Upward Bound offers quality services and programming to prepare students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs. The donation of this prize money will assist us in our tradition of preparing students for college and life.”

The partnership between Illinois and Missouri produced several bridge projects over the past decade to improve connections to jobs and tourist destinations in the metropolitan area.

The nomination, selected from a field of 81 nominations from 39 states, also was in the running for the People’s Choice Award determined by online voting. The project received 12,443 votes, the sixth-highest total in the contest.

“All of these projects demonstrate the many ways transportation improves the quality of people’s lives,” said Jim Tymon, the transportation officials association executive director. “Some of these projects increased mobility by giving commuters more travel options, including biking and walking. Others spurred economic development, cut traffic congestion or improved safety. And while we honor today’s champions, the biggest winners are by far the American people.”

SIUE’s Upward Bound program provides educational opportunities for middle and high school students in East St. Louis, Cahokia, SIUE East St. Louis Charter, Brooklyn, Madison and Collinsville, with a focus on encouraging low-income, first-generation college students to seek post-secondary education. Upward Bound and IDOT have long partnered to teach kids about engineering careers.

The SIUE East St. Louis Center Upward Bound programs help youth prepare for higher education and serves students from East St. Louis and Cahokia, and Brooklyn, East St. Louis Charter and Madison High Schools. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition and STEM subjects on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. The quality services provided will prepare the students for successful high school completion and entrance into post-secondary programs. Upward Bound is a college-preparatory program designed to serve low-income and/or potential first-generation college students who are currently in grades 9-12.


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