Program History

As you may or may not be aware, Upward Bound (UB) was piloted nationally on a few campuses during 1964 and 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

The Upward Bound Program has been a part of the MIT community since 1966 (President Howard W. Johnson) when MIT was awarded its first Upward Bound grant from the U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. However, the history of our Upward Bound Program actually begins before 1966 as it evolved out of its forerunner educational opportunity program: The MIT Science Day Camp.

The MIT Science Day Camp was an experimental community service program at MIT designed to “… provide special educational opportunities to a selected group of underpriviledged children.”  In 1965 (President Julius A. Stratton), MIT initiated The MIT Science Day Camp to serve under-represented junior and senior high school boys from the greater Boston area.  The goal of the Program was; “… to give academic preparation for college to promising children who otherwise would have no hope of entering college and who would not receive any organized encouragement to try.”  While short lived, the timely creation of this program established and demonstrated to MIT the viability of providing outreach programming to its neighboring communities.

Around this same time, Wellesley College was awaiting the arrival of a new president.  Ruth M. Adams was chosen to become the ninth president of Wellesley College (’66 – ’72). During her administration, student participation in the governance of the College increased and students were permitted to serve on Trustee and Academic Council committees. The student body, as they were embracing on-campus concerns, wanted to know what relationship Wellesley was going to have with the outside community. One of Ms. Adams’s first endeavors was to broaden the educational opportunities for them and a cross- registration program was established with MIT,  as well as with other liberal arts institutions in New England. 

During the 1968-69 academic year, many College faculty and students became involved with the Upward Bound Program. One of these individuals was current presidential candidate and Wellesley College alumna, Mrs. Hillary D. Rodham Clinton.   Ms. Hillary Rodham, as president of College Government and presiding officer of College Senate, was selected to be the student spokesman at the 1969 commencement exercises.  On that day, in her words on behalf of the her fellow students, Ms. Rodham spoke, with delight I’m sure, of Wellesley’s continued efforts to branch out beyond the campus borders by saying…

            “One of the other things that we did was the Upward Bound program. There are so many other things that we could talk about; so many attempts, at least the way we saw it, to pull ourselves into the world outside. And I think we’ve succeeded. There will be an Upward Bound program, just for one example, on the campus this summer.”

And in June 1969, the name “MIT/Wellesley Upward Bound Program” was adopted and has remained since then.