Despite cuts ConnCAP/Upward Bound summer program will continue


Naomi Thomas, Staff Writer

Despite state funding cuts that jeopardized a program that supports first-generation college students, summer services will proceed thanks to an infusion of money from the school district.

Under the proposed budget by Gov. Dannell Malloy, the Office of Higher Education has sustained major budget cuts to its Minority Advancement Programs, which includes ConnCAP.

ConnCAP/Upward Bound, however, will be able to proceed with its summer plans, albeit reduced. Assistant Director Jessica Coronel explains that the program has been provided “funds from the board of education. They’re providing resources for continuing as well as Western Connecticut State University.” Funding from Upward Bound was also renewed for an additional five years. The program has applied for additional grants such as Upward Bound Math and Science, which will assist more students starting next summer.

This change impacts nearly a total of 152 students between the middle school TRIO program, Excel and the high school’s ConnCAP/Upward Bound, Coronel said. The decrease in state funding, however, will cause some changes to the summer program.

Instead of the six-week program being held Monday through Friday, it will be Monday-Thursday.  Fridays will be designated for college visits. Students will only be able to tour one university compared to three in previous years. Moreover, due to limited funding, the program will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at noon, a contrast to a full day that would end at 2 p.m.

The decrease in state money challenged director Rob Pote and Coronel. “We are currently funded for 62 students but we’re making it work,” Pote says. “I wanted to make sure our kids would be OK whether we got this funding or not.”

For the summer,  11 7th grade students were recruited for the Excel program compared to a previous 48 in 2016. Likewise to the upcoming freshmen entering the program the amount is only 17, a large contrast to the 37 they had welcomed last year. The college level program, EAP has also significantly decreased to 26 students in comparison to approximately 65 students the past year.

TRIO programs accommodate students with a foundation to have a successful enrollment into college. ConnCAP/Upward Bound benefits Danbury High School students from low-income families who will be a first-generation college student.

To serve the district’s ever growing student population, the program combined two sources. ConnCAP — Connecticut Collegiate Awareness and Preparation Program — is funded by the state Department of Higher Education. Whereas Upward Bound Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education connected with supplementary grants from the Danbury Board of Education.

This program has been a valuable asset to students who have attended Danbury Public Schools for nearly 18 years. “They’ve given us the opportunity to not only surpass our peers in getting ready for college but to become young, capable adults; something that I would not have been able to do without this program,” junior Alexandra Charles states.

“We have alumni that are successful, we see the success of students even the Board of Education and Western see that. We’re achieving the goal of sending students to college,” Coronel said.

“ConnCAP is for the students who do not clearly see their future as bright as others. It’s for those students who believe that they cannot go to college because of their financial income,” senior Shirley Siguenza said.

Siguenza will be attending Western Connecticut State University with a grant from the college and has been accepted into its prestigious Honors Program.

Coronel mentions how, “even though the state cut the funds [the program] still [has] a relationship with them, because at one point if they decide to bring the funds again then [they] will be able to have that partnership”.

The decrease in state funding has also affected other ConnCAP programs in Connecticut such as Central Connecticut State University’s program, which has been canceled indefinitely.

Programs such as  ConnCAP/Upward Bound have assisted many families, Charles says her parents for example, “aren’t well informed on the college process so I believe ConnCAP reassures them that their children are in good hands.”