2750 University Capitol Centre
200 S Capitol St
Iowa City, IA 52242-1323
Tel: 319-335-6708


Jennifer Lynch
TRIO Programs Director
Phone: 319-335-3555

Tristan Schmidt
Educational Support Services Specialist. (Juniors)
Phone: 319-467-4641

Joseph Villalobos
Educational Support Services Specialist. (Freshman & Sophomores)

Kimberly Castillo
Assistant Director. (Seniors)
Email: (link sends e-mail) 
Phone: 319-467-4777

Linda Pyrah
Educational Support Services Associate
Email: (link sends e-mail) 
Phone: 319-467-4165

 Welcome to the Upward Bound Project!

We are a federal TRIO program that helps first-generation and low-income high school students prepare for postsecondary education. We empower students to advocate for their education and achieve their postsecondary goals. Upward Bound began in 1964 and has been part of the University of Iowa since 1966. Since then, we have served thousands of students in the Eastern Iowa area. Upward Bound has numerous opportunities for involvement throughout the year for participants and community members alike. We invite you to explore our site and learn more about our program! TRIO Upward Bound at the University of Iowa is funded through a grant from the United States Department of Education.

There are a few basic requirements to join the program. You need to:

1. Be a student at Columbus Community, Muscatine, or West Liberty High School (8th-grade students can apply in the spring before they start 9th grade)

2. Be willing to participate in the Program through your senior year.

3. Be willing to participate in academic programming like tutoring during the school year, and classes during our summer program.

4. Be a potential first-generation college student (this means that your parents do not have a four-year college degree from the U.S.A.) or your family's taxable income meets low-income guidelines.

The University of Iowa Upward Bound Program serves students attending Columbus Community High School, Muscatine High School, and West Liberty High School. If you are not a student at one of these schools, contact the guidance office at your school to see if another Upward Bound serves your area.

To be considered for the Upward Bound project, you must fill out an application.

Access the application using the links below:

Upward Bound Application Form (English)

Upward Bound Solicitud de Admisión (Español)

If you need a printed application, please see your school’s Upward Bound field representative or contact Upward Bound at (link sends e-mail) or 319-335-6708.


Upward Bound helps high school students in their pursuit of post-secondary education. The benefits of joining Upward Bound are numerous and include (but are not limited to):

    -  Individual and small-group tutoring

    -  Academic counseling

    -  One-on-one college counseling

    -  Two ACT test fee waivers

    -  Four SAT test fee waivers

    -  FAFSA assistance

    -  Community service opportunities

    -  College visits

    -  Cultural events

    -  Leadership opportunities

    -  Resume workshops

    -  Scholarship assistance

    -  Summer enrichment opportunities

    -  Stipends for participation in UB meetings and events

All Upward Bound activities are free to participants and transportation is provided to and from all events.

Saturday Academies

Throughout the academic year, UB students participate in weekend college-going workshops on the University of Iowa campus. These "Saturday Academies" cover an array of topics including career counseling, study skills, financial literacy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) exploration, and more.

Weekly meetings

Upward Bound participants meet one-on-one and in small groups with UB specialists for individualized college and career counseling and activities focused on topics including:

Academic schedule building

ACT preparation

Understanding how high school courses and grades relate to college

Finding the right college

Filling out college applications and searching for scholarships

Learning how skills and interests relate to a career

Improving financial literacy

Developing self-advocacy skills


UB connects students who are struggling academically, who want extra academic support, or who want to get ahead with trained college-student tutors. Tutors help students with difficult subject areas and with organization, test preparation, and academic preparedness.


During the academic year participants can attend Upward Bound events in the Eastern Iowa area, including a day of community service, a cultural event such as a play or musical performance, and college campus visits. These events give students the opportunity to find out what "going to college is all about" and what types of opportunities college study presents to them.

During the summer program, Upward Bound participants live and learn on the University of Iowa campus. Participants take courses that will prepare them for their next year in school and engage in creative after-class activities to explore their extracurricular interests. The Upward Bound summer program is comprised of a five-week Rising student residential program for students entering grades 10 through 12 in the fall and a six-week Bridge experience for students entering college in the fall.

Rising Student Program

During the Rising student summer program, students entering grades 10 through 12 the following fall experience college life first-hand by living in one of the University of Iowa's residence halls. During the day, students take rigorous high school level classes in math, science, ACT prep, foreign language, and language arts to prepare them for the upcoming academic year. They also take a STEM seminar focusing on various topics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Bridge Student Program

In the Bridge experience, students entering college in the fall take a college course through the University of Iowa. Credits earned during the Bridge program can be transferred to any college or university. Bridge students also participate in job shadows with professionals in the Iowa City community and complete a Bridge Seminar class to learn skills to aid in the transition to college. Like Rising students, Bridge students live in university dorms and get to experience life on a university campus.


In the evenings, students participate in SILTS—that's Special Interests and Life-Time Sports—to learn more about hobbies and creative activities they may want to pursue as well as explore ways to remain physically fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the evening's students also enjoy a bit of free time, hit the books or computer lab during UB study time, and participate in occasional resident mentor group meetings.

Week of Learning on the Road

The summer program culminates in a Week of Learning on the Road, an educational field trip to an exciting destination in the United States. Past destinations have included Washington DC, New York City, Minneapolis, South Dakota, Memphis, and Chicago. Participation in the trip is free to all summer participants.

For additional information, please get in touch with your field representative:

Columbus Community High School (link is external)
Mr. Jose Gomez

Art Teacher


Phone: 319-728-291

Muscatine High School (link is external)
Mr. Brandon Welsch

Guidance Counselor


Phone: 563-263-6141

West Liberty High School (link is external)
Mr. Jacob Lamb
Science Teacher (link sends e-mail)
(319) 627–2115 x5037

Upward Bound was only successful with the help of community members and volunteers.

During the Academic Year we are seeking:

  • Academic year tutors (paid position)
  • Saturday Academy (volunteer position)

During the Summer we are seeking:

  • Resident Mentors (RA positions for our summer program) (paid position)
  • Summer Instructors in core subject areas (paid positions)

For more information about getting involved with our program, please get in touch with the Upward Bound team at 

Check out these useful links!

Register for the ACT (link is external)
Find test dates, register for the ACT, send your scores, and more…

FAFSA (link is external)
The online site for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA should be filled out annually by current & prospective college students to determine eligibility for student financial aid.

The College Board (link is external)
For college and career readiness, test prep, scholarships, college info and more… (link is external)
A helpful resource in your search for colleges and scholarships.

Links to key student information