Upward Bound

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When Anita was young and preparing for college, her mother got sick and Anita put her dreams aside to care for her. Now that Anita has three girls of her own, she makes sure they take every opportunity to succeed in their education and beyond.

“I’m a hands-on mom; I take them wherever they need to go,” Anita said. “Kids are an investment. The more you put into them, the more you get out.” She drives each of her daughters to a different school every day, as well as to after-school and weekend enrichment opportunities.

Her investment has paid off – Anita’s oldest, 17-year-old Journee, is president of the National Honor Society, the creator of a self-esteem program for junior high girls, and one of the winners of this year’s $20,000 Chicago Cubs scholarship.

“I want to dedicate myself to my education and bring it back to my community,” Journee said. “I want to go really far. I got that from my mom.”

Journee joined Calumet Center’s Upward Bound program soon after she began her freshman year at Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy. The charter school where she attended junior high had a very different approach to math and science, and she hoped Upward Bound could help her adjust.

Upward Bound helped her not only with math and science but also with her writing, college applications, scholarships and SAT preparation. Some of her most meaningful experiences through Upward Bound came from being exposed to new possibilities.

“I want to thank Ms. Greene and Upward Bound for seeing potential I didn’t even know I had,” Journee said. “Ms. Greene is like a second mother to me. She pushes me like my mom always does. She’s very eager to see children from the South Side who come from underprivileged communities to want more for themselves and also pushes them to do what they want to do. She’s one of a kind.”

Upward Bound sent Journee and her younger sisters on a college tour, where she fell in love with Howard University though she had never considered a historically Black college or university. It also connected her with the Greenwood Project, which sent her on a tour of Wall Street and landed her two internships. The experience prompted her to plan to major in business.

Journee would recommend Upward Bound to her peers at Gwendolyn Brooks.

“This is a vital program and don’t take it for granted,” she said. “They open doors for you. Their network is your network. If you need something, I guarantee they’ll find a resource for you to get what you want.”

“I thank Metropolitan Family Services for all that they have done,” Anita said. “Not just for my children but all children who get involved in the program. It’s been a positive experience.”