In 1964, Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act which authorized a federal program to increase the number of high school graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds entering postsecondary training.  This program was named Upward Bound and was funded through the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Department of Education).

Through participation in Upward Bound, students have the opportunity to identify and develop their interests and abilities and to broaden their awareness of school and career opportunities.  Programs are developed to help students deal effectively and successfully with academics, life planning, career selection, and preparation.  Social, cultural, and recreational activities are also included in the program.  The program's goal is to endow the participants with the motivation and the skills necessary for success in high school and postsecondary education.  We help students set and reach goals for their future.

Upward Bound-Project Focus is divided into two major parts: Summer Session and Academic Year.  Each summer, Project Focus students and staff move to Emporia State university and live on campus for a five week program.  Students attend classes daily, usually those preparing them for the upcoming Academic Year.  Students are in classes about five hours a day.  In addition, they may attend the Recreation Center, an ACT Preparation class or Self Exploration class twice a week and a Language and Culture class twice a week.

Bridge students, who are students who have graduated from high school and have completed at least two previous Summer Sessions, take college classes.  Bridge students may take up to six hours of college credit, have a job on campus, and attend a class designed for college freshmen.  These classes can transfer to the college of their choice if they choose not to attend Emporia State University.

Students and staff members have access to campus and city activities.  Evening and weekend activities may include theatre productions, concerts, dances, swimming, trips, and other recreational activities.

During the academic year, Project Focus students meet weekly in their home schools with a tutor/advisor that provides help in academic skills, college and career planning, personal advising and tutoring.  Academic progress, attendance and attitude is monitored during this time.  Contact is also maintained with the school and their staff.

Once a month, a Saturday Session workshop is held.  These sessions may include academic, interpersonal, college and career information, and/or cultural activities.  In the spring, a Summer Session Orientation is held for students and parents.

Throughout the school year, contact is kept with parents/guardians about progress a student is achieving.


We serve the following Target High Schools:

  • Atchison High School, Atchison Kansas
  • Benton High School, St. Joseph, Missouri
  • Central High School, St. Joseph, Missouri
  • Hiawatha High School, Hiawatha, Kansas
  • Horton High School, Horton Kansas
  • Lafayette High School, St. Joseph, Missouri
  • Leavenworth High School, Leavenworth, Kansas
  • Riverside High School, Wathena Kansas


How Do I Qualify?

  • Have a desire to go to college
  • Be a 9th or 10th grader at one of the target high schools
  • Be a first generation and/or low income student (as defined by the U.S. Department of Education)


If you have any questions, please feel free to call our office toll-free: 1-888-330-4050.