TRIO History

Significant events such as the formal naming of the programs as the “Federal TRIO Programs” in 1992 and the defeats of attempts to eliminate TRIO funding underscore the resilience and impact of the TRIO community in supporting disadvantaged students’ access to education.


The War on Poverty

In his first State of the Union address, President Lyndon Baines Johnson declares “War on Poverty.” Later that year, he signs the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 into law. This legislation establishes the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity (“OEO”). This independent agency generates many new social welfare programs, including Jobs Corps, Head Start, and a college-preparatory demonstration project called Upward Bound.


Exceptionally talented, exceptionally needy students

In the summer of 1965, the first cohort of Upward Bound students participate in summer programs hosted by 17 various institutions: • Columbia University (New York, NY) • Dillard University (New Orleans, LA) • Fisk University (Nashville, TN) • Florida A&M University (Tallahassee, FL) • Howard University (Washington, DC) • Independent Schools Talent Search Program (Boston, MA) • LeMoyne College (Syracuse, NY) • Morehouse College (Atlanta, GA) • New Mexico Highlands University (Las Vegas, NM) • New York University (New York, NY) • Ripon College (Ripon, WI) • Tennessee State University (Nashville, TN) • Texas Southern University (Houston, TX) • University of Oregon (Eugene, OR) • University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, AR) • Webster University (St. Louis, MO) • Western Washington State College (Bellingham, WA)

Of the 2,061 students participating in Upward Bound in the summer of 1965, 80 percent would be admitted to college for the fall of 1965, and 69 percent of those freshmen would go on to graduate from college.

November 8, 1965

Higher Education Act of 1965

On November 8, that same year, President Johnson signs the Higher Education Act of 1965 (“HEA”), which authorized a new program called Talent Search to identify “exceptionally talented, exceptionally needy” students.


Office of Education administers Talent Search.

The U.S. Office of Education, which operates out of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) administers the first 42 Talent Search projects at $2 million serving approximately 50,000 students.


TRIO programs form as one becomes three.

In the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, Congress transfers management of Upward Bound from the Office of Economic Opportunity to the Office of Education. Congress also creates a new program for undergraduates: Special Services for Disadvantaged Students (now known as Student Support Services). Together with Talent Search, these three programs are known informally as “the TRIO programs.”


Student Support Services

The Office of Education administers the first 118 Special Services for Disadvantaged Students projects at $10 million to serve 30,000 students.


A commitment to adult learners

In the 1972 HEA reauthorization, Congress creates the fourth TRIO program – Educational Opportunity Centers (“EOCs”) – to provide counseling and information on college admissions to adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education.

Also, under the Upward Bound authority, the Office of Education administers the first Veterans Upward Bound grants to address the needs of servicemen returning home from the Vietnam War.


Educational Opportunity Centers

The first 12 EOCs begin to operate with $3 million in funding to serve 30,000 clients.


A Champion in Congress

In the 1976 HEA reauthorization, Congress creates the TRIO Staff Training Program (i.e., TRIO Training Grants).

Shirley Chisholm (D-NY), the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Congress, adopts TRIO as cause and assists the TRIO community in advancing its interests.


Atlanta University receives the first TRIO Staff Development grant for $2 million.


Home, Sweet Home

The Department of Education Organization Act dismantles the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and establishes a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Education. TRIO programs were transferred to the new Department’s Office of Postsecondary Education, Division of Student Services.


First-Generation College Students

The TRIO community introduced the concept of the “first-generation college student.” In the 1980 HEA reauthorization, Congress standardizes eligibility across all TRIO programs to include those from low-income backgrounds and/or who are potential “first-generation college students.”


Preparation for Doctoral Study

In response to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Deficit Reduction Act, which mandates an across-the-board cut to government funding, Congress proclaims February 28, 1986 as “National TRIO Day” (H. Con. Res. 278) to highlight the needs and accomplishments of TRIO students and programs. Subsequently, National TRIO Day is celebrated annually on the last Saturday of each February.

In the 1986 HEA reauthorization, Congress creates a fifth TRIO program – the “Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program” – to prepare low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students to pursue doctoral study.


In memory of the Late Ronald E. McNair

In the technical amendments to the 1986 reauthorization, Congress renames the newest TRIO program as the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program.


Research and other scholarly activities

Through $1.5 million, the first 14 McNair programs support 600 students. The host institutions were:

– American University
– Bowie State University
– California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
– CUNY-John Jay
– Marquette University
– North Carolina A&T University
– Oberlin University 
– Rutgers University
– SUNY at Buffalo
– University of Illinois at Urbana
– University of Maine
– University of Maryland–College Park
– University of Massachusetts—Boston
– Wesleyan University


Upward Bound Math-Science

In the HEA reauthorization, Congress formally names the programs the “Federal TRIO Programs.” Under the Upward Bound authority, the Department of Education issues the first Upward Bound Math-Science grants.


War on Opportunity

In what would be known as the “War on Opportunity,” the TRIO community defeats a proposal by the House Budget Committee to eliminate TRIO.


The Congressional TRIO Caucus organizes its first briefing on Capitol Hill.


The TRIO community defeats the White House’s attempt to eliminate Upward Bound, Talent Search, and GEAR UP.


The TRIO community defeats a renewed attempt by the Administration to eliminate Upward Bound, Talent Search, and GEAR UP.


College Cost Reduction and Access Act

In the College Cost Reduction and Access Act, the TRIO community secures $228 million (over four years) to fund 200 additional Upward Bound projects in that year’s grant competition.


In the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the TRIO community defeats the unethical evaluation of the Upward Bound program, establishes a formal appeals process for TRIO grant applicants, and wins five-year grant terms for all projects.


Upward Bound celebrates 50 years of service.


Talent Search celebrates 50 years of service.


The TRIO community defeats an amendment to revoke $60 million from TRIO by a House floor vote of 153-263.

The TRIO community co-hosts the first National First-Generation College Celebration Day on November 8, to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act of 1965.


TRIO funding cracks the $1 billion threshold for the first time in its history.
Student Support Services celebrates 50 years of service.


Educational Opportunity Centers and Veterans Upward Bound celebrate 50 years of service.


Serving over 875,000 students across the United States and its territories, TRIO celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Upward Bound

Upward Bound

Upward Bound (UB) is an intensive intervention program that prepares students for higher education through various enrichment courses. Campus-based UB programs provide students instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, science, and foreign language during the school year and the summer. UB also offers intensive mentoring and support for students as they prepare for college entrance exams and tackle admission applications, financial aid, and scholarship forms. 956 Upward Bound projects are serving more than 70,000 students. Recent analysis from the U.S. Department of Education showed that 86 percent of Upward Bound students in the 2013–14 high school graduation cohort enrolled immediately in college following high school graduation.

Upward Bound Math-Science

Upward Bound Math-Science

Using a similar model to Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math-Science provides students with a rigorous math and science curriculum in high school to encourage and enable them to successfully major in critically important science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines in college. Currently, there are 211 projects serving more than 13,100 students. Indeed, 70% of Upward Bound Math-Science programs have postsecondary enrollments of 80% or higher.

Veterans Upward Bound

Veterans Upward Bound

The Veterans Upward Bound program provides intensive basic skills development and short-term remedial courses for military veterans to help them successfully transition to postsecondary education. Veterans learn to secure support from available resources such as the Veterans Administration, veterans associations, and various state and local agencies that serve veterans. There are 64 Veterans Upward Bound projects serving more than 8,400 students. According to the National Association of Veterans Upward Bound Program Personnel, in 2010-2011, more than 60% of recent program participants were enrolled in postsecondary education programs.

Student Support Services

Student Support Services

Student Support Services projects work to enable low-income students to stay in college until they earn their baccalaureate degrees. Participants, who include disabled college students, receive tutoring, counseling, and remedial instruction. More than 202,000 students are now being served by 1,069 Student Support Service programs at colleges and universities nationwide. Recent studies of Student Support Services found that program participation resulted in statistically significant higher student retention and transfer rates, improved grade point averages, and credit accumulation. Program participants also bested their similarly situated peers in degree completion at two-year colleges (41% vs. 28%) and four-year colleges (48% vs. 40%).

Educational Opportunity Centers

Educational Opportunity Centers

Educational Opportunity Centers serve displaced or underemployed workers from families. These Centers help individuals choose a college and a suitable financial aid program. There are 142 Educational Opportunity Centers in America, serving more than 199,000 individuals. A recent analysis of performance data of the Educational Opportunity Centers found that more than half (57.6%) of “college-ready” students enrolled in institutions of higher learning and 71% of eligible EOC participants (high school seniors, postsecondary dropouts) applied to college.

Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement program encourages low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching and prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in this program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors. This program was named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion. Currently, there are 187 projects serving more than 5,200 students. According to recent performance data, in 2013-14, 69% of McNair participants who graduated in 2010-11 were enrolled in graduate school; meanwhile, 83% of students who first enrolled in graduate school in 2012-2013 persisted in their studies.

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