[ skip to content ]

More Information about this image

Engaged in Upward Bound.

TRiO Upward Bound


Upward Bound is a federally funded program whose goal is to motivate and provide academic assistance to eligible high school students who show promise for success in education beyond high school.

Located on the campus of Old Dominion University, the Upward Bound Program has two phases, a summer residential phase and an academic year phase. During the summer, students gain the opportunity to stay on-campus and receive intensive classroom instructions to prepare them for the upcoming school year. During the academic year phase, students attend sessions on Saturdays and receive individualized tutorial instructions designed to enhance their performance in high school classes.

Read more about the program in the tabs below.

The program is offered to ninth through eleventh graders who reside in Norfolk public high schools and to its middle school students who are rising ninth graders. It is also offered to high school students who reside in Portsmouth, Virginia who attend Churchland High School and to middle school rising ninth graders who will be attending Churchland High School.

The faculty consists of local high school teachers and Old Dominion University's faculty, who also provide workshops and seminars. Old Dominion students work as tutor-counselors for the program. They assist the instructors in the classroom and communicate with the Upward Bound students on a more personal basis.

Eligible Project Participants Must:

  • meet the income eligibility criterion established by Federal Guidelines
  • be a potential first-generation college bound student (neither of whose parent(s) received a baccalaureate degree)
  • be enrolled in the 9th, 10th, or the 11th grade, and enrolled in one of the target area high schools at the time of acceptance
  • be at least 13 and a rising 9th grader also at the time of acceptance
  • be a citizen or national of the United States
  • reside in Norfolk or Portsmouth
  • have a need for academic support in order to successfully pursue a program of study in education beyond high school

Academic Services

Academic services provided by the program include classroom instructions and tutorial assistance in English, reading, mathematics, science and laboratory science, foreign language, social studies and elective classes.

College Tours & Cultural Enrichment

Field trips are provided to increase students' awareness of their environment and college admissions' requirements.


Transportation to and from College Tours, special activities, and Cultural Enrichment activities is provided for participants by the Upward Bound Program.

Upward Bound 10

Guidance & Counseling Services

Using a developmental advising approach, Upward Bound assist students in making appropriate college plans, academic decisions, and career choices.


Stipends are given for program participation each Saturday during the academic year. A weekly stipend is also given during the summer residential component. In order to receive the stipend, the participant must show evidence of satisfactory participation in program activities to include: regular attendance and improve academic performance.


Booker T. Washington High School

Liasion: Ms. Lakeshia Mayes

(757) 628-3572

Lake Taylor High School

Liasion: Dr. Robin Stratton

(757) 892-3215

Norview High School

Liasion: Mr. Walter Thomas

(757) 852-4508

Churchland High School

Liasion: Ms. Lekeya Massenburg

(757) 686-2500

Granby High School

Liasion: Shonda DeBerry

(757) 451-4116

Maury High School

Liasion: Mr. Frank Brown

(757) 628-3369

Viola Davis, TRIO Achiever

When internationally-acclaimed actress Viola Davis gains her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Jan. 5, two special people will be among the many around the world cheering her on: Her older sister, Deloris Grant, and the sisters' earliest acting coach, Ron Stetson.The Federal Upward Bound program links all three.

As teenagers, Deloris and Viola in 1979 enrolled together in the six-week intensive Upward Bound program at Rhode Island College. They did so during the one and only summer that Stetson worked in the college prep, student success program for those who are low-income or "first generation," meaning their parents did not obtain a college degree.

The job was "manna from heaven," Ron recalled during an interview in late December. Why? Besides allowing him to expose teenagers to the serious pursuit of theater, many for the first time, he joked, "I had to put gas in my car."

Ron, who has worked in theater for decades and who is a senior member of the acting staff at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse, admired Viola long before she had garnered two Academy Award nominations (for the movies "Doubt" and "The Help,") and decades before she won an Emmy (for her lead role in "How to Get Away With Murder"). He recalls a driven 14-year-old who was undaunted by his tough-love approach to teaching drama. Humble about the role he played in her life, Ron said, "I can't stress this enough: This is Viola's story, not mine."

Ron asked his students to raise their hands if they wanted to become an actor. All hands went up. As he emphasized the difficulty of an acting career, the high unemployment rate, the rarity of career opportunity, let alone success, more and more hands came down until Viola's was the only one left.

"I liked her," Ron remembered. "I know myself well enough that I brought a lot of ego into that room. But she was a very determined kid. I mean, Viola was 14 years old! But she didn't back down; as Viola herself told the New Yorker, she was reaching for the ceiling."

She remembers growing up poor in a family of one brother and five sisters. Yet the Upward Bound program was a bright spot for the whole family. When asked if she was enrolled in the student success program, she laughed and said, "Are you kidding me? The first year, I went to some classes with [older sisters] Diane and Anita," who were also enrolled in Upward Bound - at that time, the youngest sister, Danielle, was still too young to attend. (Ultimately, the five Davis sisters all obtained college degrees.)

Deloris said spending six summer weeks at Rhode Island College in classes with Viola drew the sisters closer together and was a galvanizing experience. "Our lives became intertwined," Deloris said. "Having six weeks away from home, developing my own sense of self, doing drama, attending classes, was like a big, huge present."

Yet the family struggled. When there was no food in the house, Deloris, Viola and their siblings sometimes would look through garbage for something to eat. Drama provided an escape, although the experience of going to bed hungry was something that neither of them would ever forget -- one reason why Viola is now the ambassador for Hunger Is, an effort that aims to end childhood hunger in America.

Despite poverty at home, the girls' educational life blossomed. Between Upward Bound classes every Saturday and attending high school, they were in school six days a week. "The teachers in Upward Bound were some of the best teachers I ever had. They were brilliant and compassionate. They treated me like I was such an intellectual, and I wasn't used to that. Previous to that experience I felt that others treated me differently because I was a black female," Deloris said. "Ron's classes liberated me as an artist. I realized, you know what, maybe I really am important. Maybe I really can do something great someday."

The Upward Bound experience made such an impact on Deloris and Viola that they decided they wanted to start a scholarship fund for Upward Bound students as soon as they graduated from Rhode Island College. To start the fund, she and Viola put on a one-woman show at the college in 1988, raising between $200 and $300. The beginnings were humble, but they were the start of something much bigger. Since that time, the fund they began, Rhode Island College's Upward Bound Scholarship Endowment Fund, has provided tens of thousands of dollars to help dozens of Upward Bound students pay for college tuition and books. After Viola was nominated for an Academy Award in 2012 for "The Help," fellow movie actress Meryl Streep, with whom Viola co-starred in "Doubt," donated $10,000 to the fund.

"Viola is always asking me, 'are any of the kids hungry? Do they need food?' She has given so much to the students at my high school. People have no idea," Deloris said.

Deloris will be on the Hollywood sidewalk beside Viola as her sister's terrazzo and brass star is imbedded in cement to shine through the ages along with the leading lights of film.

As for Ron, he remains humbled and a little amazed at the role he played in sparking interest in a 14-year-old Upward Bound student who has become one of the world's leading actresses. "The arts empower people," he said. "Somewhere along the line, someone said 'Yes,' to Viola."

And so did Upward Bound.

Taken from Council for Opportunity in Education website, dated 01/03/17

Phillip Killebrew, Class of 2009

Phillip graduated from I. C. Norcom High School in 2009. Our former director, Mrs. Tolliver saw something in Phillip and admitted him in the program. He came into the Upward Bound Program and took advantage of all the program had to offer.

He graduated from Virginia State University with a BS Degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is presently a Fluid Systems Engineer with General Dynamics Electric Boat. He is attending the University of New Haven pursuing MS degree in Engineering Operation Management.

College Panel

Source of Funding

TRIO Upward Bound Program is funded by the Federal Government through the U. S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202. The Upward Bound Program at Old Dominion University has been funded for five years from 2022 through 2027.

Site Navigation

Experience Guaranteed

Enhance your college career by gaining relevant experience with the skills and knowledge needed for your future career. Discover our experiential learning opportunities.

Academic Days

Picture yourself in the classroom, speak with professors in your major, and meet current students.

Upcoming Events

From sports games to concerts and lectures, join the ODU community at a variety of campus events.