Their job was to keep America strong and safe. Now, for the first time, the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville East St. Louis Center has a program whose mission is to help veterans.
“Our Veterans Upward Bound Program is going to help the men and women who put their country’s needs ahead of themselves,” said Calvin Yancey, program director and retired U.S. Army Lieut. Col.
The program will serve 125 adults in St. Clair, Madison and Monroe counties in Illinois, St. Louis City, and St. Louis and St. Charles counties. First generational or low-income students, who are also veterans, will have an opportunity to achieve their career and academic aspirations through the program.
The program based out of the ESLC, works in partnership with the Office of Veterans Services on the Edwardsville campus.
“Specifically, we are going to help veterans obtain their associates and bachelor’s degrees,” said Yancey. “Some statistics say that only 25 percent of all veterans have post-secondary education. One reason is that many veterans are discouraged with the bureaucracy of applying for and finding loans to go to college.”
“There are monies available for veterans and other monetary assistance they can use,” he added, “and we help them navigate the financial difficulties and other potential roadblocks.”
“This Veterans Upward Bound program is an exciting opportunity for the SIUE East St. Louis Center to combine our demonstrated success in college access programming and workforce pathways to advance the education and career goals of veterans throughout the region,” said ESLC Executive Director Jesse Dixon. “We believe that with Mr. Yancey’s leadership, this program can be a game-changer for our local veterans.”
“We do assessments to determine what type of educational field they want to pursue,” said Yancey, who has worked with veterans’ support services for more than seven years. “We will assist the veteran in whatever endeavor he or she wishes to pursue.”
“These veterans may not see themselves as college eligible without the case management, counseling and tutoring that this grant will provide,” said Johanna Wharton, director of Workforce Development and Strategic Partnerships, and interim program director of Veterans Upward Bound.
“I am a first-generation college student, and I am from the Darst-Webbe Housing Complex in St. Louis,” said Yancey. “I want to give back to my community and working to assist veterans is one way I do that.” Yancey has a bachelor’s in printing management and technology from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and a master’s in human resource management from the Webster University School of Business and Technology in St. Louis.
“Veterans go through a lot. They raised their hands to make the ultimate sacrifice in serving their country,” declared Yancey, “and being able to assist them, and keep them on the right track means a lot to me.”
With a focus on empowering people and strengthening communities, the SIUE East St. Louis Center is dedicated to improving the lives of families and individuals – from pre-school through adult – in the Metro East. Head Start/Early Head Start and a charter high school are among the programs that offer the community renewed hope and an opportunity to reach educational, career and life goals. The Center also assigns priority to encouraging, supporting and improving the educational success of the residents of East St. Louis and surrounding urban communities. The Center provides comprehensive programs, services and training in the areas of education, health, social services and the arts.
— New Upward Bound program focuses on veterans —