Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Upward Bound Is Critical to My Constituents

May 10, 2017
Press Release
DOE Rejects Applicants for Minor Errors on Their Submissions

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (IL-01) and Danny K. Davis (IL-07) sent a letter to Secretary DeVos urging the Department of Education to reconsider its staunch position on application submissions with minor errors for its Upward Bound Grant Program. Illinois had the highest number of Upward Bound applications that were rejected for frivolous reasons, including at least 12 statewide organizations out of 77 nationwide. The Department denied these Upward Bound Grant applications due to minor formatting concerns — such as spacing, font and format of the file uploaded — that have no material effect on the substance of the 65-page applications.

“Upward Bound serves members of my constituency in a way that levels the playing field in education. This grant and others like it prepare low-income students in college preparation course work. Whether it be healthcare or education policy, we are witnessing within this Administration a common theme of exclusion and ignoring the plight of diverse and less affluent constituencies by decision-makers in favor of those with more influence and sway. The deadline for the applications process quickly approaches and we cannot afford to lose any worthy applicants who already face uncertainty due to overall declining educational funding,” said Rush. “Outstanding institutions such as the University of Chicago and Roseland Community Institute of Positive Development are affected by the Department’s decision.”

“The program description of the Upward Bound Grant states: “Upward Bound serves: high school students from low-income families; and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree,” said Davis. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education. “It is utterly incomprehensible why the Department would want to place additional arbitrary barriers before these students, barriers which are not based on evaluating either the quality or the track record of the programs or of the needs of the potential students.”

In part, the letter states that the Department’s rigid policies will cost Illinois millions of dollars, deny thousands of low-income and first-generation students’ critical preparation for higher education and weaken dozens of institutions and communities.