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[Eric Meder/The Daily Pennsylvanian] The Upward Bound and Veterans Upward Bound are housed at 3933 Walnut St. The programs may get their funding cut from the federal budget.

Upward Bound, a program designed to expand enrollment in institutions of higher education, may face cuts under President George W. Bush's recently proposed federal budget.

"We just simply don't feel like it's been an effective use of the taxpayers' dollar," said Jim Bradshaw, spokesman for the United States Department of Education. The program "doesn't lend itself to effective measurement" of success, he said.

Instead, the money will be redirected into a general fund for school districts -- meaning the funds will no longer be earmarked for disadvantaged students.

Also suggested for elimination were programs like Talent Search, Veterans Upward Bound and Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah's GEAR-UP program.

The proposed cuts "would have a tremendous impact on the [West Philadelphia] community," said Terri White, executive director of academic support programs at the University. "These programs are about the only ones in the area that really focus on the college-going process."

The "timing is terrible," White added, noting that the cuts come as University President Amy Gutmann is striving to increase community engagement and access to Penn.

Gutmann agreed. "The actual elimination of some educational programs that provide opportunities for disadvantaged students adversely affects our commitment to increasing opportunity," Gutmann said.

College sophomore Amber Enoch participated in a Penn-operated Upward Bound program.

Like all Upward Bound students, she had access to tutors and enrichment classes to help her prepare for college, take the SATs and apply for college admission and financial aid. Over the summers throughout her high school career, she took classes at Penn for free and visited various colleges around the country at the end of the program.

"Upward Bound was really very helpful," Enoch said.

Penn alumnus and Philadelphia native Michael Upshur also participated in the program.

"I've been very, very proud of what the program has done for me as a person and as a student," Upshur said. "Even after I got into college, they still functioned as a resource for me."

"I have nothing but complete love for the program," Upshur said, adding that he learned skills like networking through the program, in addition to receiving academic support.

Wharton sophomore Cintya Ramos is an alumna of the Upward Bound program run by Columbia University in New York City. For Ramos, one of the most helpful aspects of the program was the opportunity to immerse herself in the college atmosphere during high school.

"It made the goal of going to college that much more attainable," Ramos said. "It gave you that feeling -- you can do it again. I can apply to college. I can do this. This is not out of my reach."

Enoch and Ramos said that almost all of their fellow participants in the program ended up pursuing a college degree.

"I don't think everyone had the same motivation," Enoch said of her high school classmates who were not in the program.

The close interaction with Upward Bound staff members, college students and professors also helped to make the college application process less daunting for Enoch and Ramos.

"When I had forced interaction with the staff ... I got to be not so intimidated by what would later become our college professors," Enoch said.

Ramos agreed.

"You can put a face to the attainment of a goal, and it makes that goal much more concrete for you as a high school student who doesn't have anyone in their family who had gone to college," she said.

Also in danger of losing funding is the Veterans Upward Bound program, which helps United States veterans -- many of whom have been out of school for extended periods of time -- reacclimate themselves to an academic environment.

College of General Studies student Brian Walsh praised the intense support offered by the program. Walsh, who is legally blind, turned to the program for support.

"I still ... call for information if I need assistance," Walsh said. "They're more than willing to assist even after you leave the program, which is pretty special."

"It's pretty tough to put into words how ... grateful I am," Walsh added. "As a blind veteran, it's difficult in school, even without a disability, for someone who hasn't been in school for 25 or 30 years and to have a complete turnaround and start doing something that difficult."

In West Philadelphia, University officials are directly responsible for Upward Bound and Talent Search. For about 25 years, Penn has run the programs as part of its community outreach.

Students like Enoch and Ramos have begun signing petitions and writing letters to try to save the programs.

Each of the participants echoed Enoch's words almost exactly.

"Without them I would not be at Penn," she said. "I really don't know where I would be without them."

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