EKU Awarded Competitive Veterans Upward Bound Grant

Three servicemen in uniform

With a long-standing reputation for excellence in veteran education, Eastern Kentucky University has been awarded a five-year grant for a Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) program. VUB is a federally funded TRiO outreach program designed to prepare eligible, first-generation, low-income veterans to enter postsecondary education. 

“As one of the top three veteran schools in the nation, we are proud to continue supporting our veteran population with additional assistance through the Veterans Upward Bound program,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “This infusion of funds will ensure our ability to continue elevating our support for the men and women who have served our country.”

According to Barbara Kent, director of EKU’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, the VUB program addresses any academic, social or emotional issues that may be a barrier to postsecondary education. Free services for eligible veterans will include academic assessments and placement testing, core curriculum instruction, tutoring, admissions applications, visits to college campuses, help with the FAFSA and financial literacy workshops, scholarship workshops and cultural enrichment activities. Veterans residing within Clay, Fayette, Knox, Laurel, Madison, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle and Whitley counties will be able to apply for the program, and the EKU-VUB program will serve 125 eligible veterans annually. Additionally, many of the services offered to veterans in the program will be available to their family members at no cost, as well. 

“This is an extremely competitive grant. Only a handful of new grants were awarded for this cycle, and EKU received a perfect application score, representing our commitment to excellence in all we do,” said Kent. “As a nationally recognized leader for veteran education, coupled with our commitment to regional and community stewardship, we are uniquely positioned to host a Veterans Upward Bound program to assist in their transition to postsecondary education so they can be successful in their academic goals. This will allow our eastern Kentucky veterans to serve their communities and be competitive in the 21st century workforce.”

EKU’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, along with the Division of Sponsored Programs, began working on the grant in the spring of 2021 and submitted the proposal in June 2022. EKU will receive $287,537 annually over the next five years to implement the new program, for a total award of $1,437,685. Currently, there is only one other university with a VUB program in the Commonwealth. 

“EKU’s tradition of promoting educational and career opportunities for our veterans is second to none,” said U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (KY-06), who advocated for EKU’s grant application through a letter of support to the U.S. Department of Education. “The new VUB program will enable EKU to expand the university’s footprint in the veteran community and ensure that more veterans can smoothly make the transition from military service to civilian life. I am thrilled that EKU has received this grant, and I look forward to seeing its impact when the program is fully implemented.” 

The announcement of the VUB program at EKU further exemplifies the university’s commitment to serving veterans through educational opportunities. EKU is currently ranked No. 3 in the Military Friendly® Schools review, and No. 9 nationally and No. 1 in Kentucky among the “Best for Vets” public institutions by Military Times. 

“The greatest impact for EKU will be the opportunity for various areas on campus to become involved and help serve these students,” Kent said. “In addition, the program will provide opportunities for our current EKU students to interact and support their fellow veterans in entering postsecondary education.”