Ask Harlem high school students what the Upward Bound program means to them, and you'll hear nothing but praise.
"Without Upward Bound, I wouldn't know what to do. I'd be preparing just for Rock Valley College," Andre Dyson said.
"Everything. It's been part of my life everyday the last four years," Rahcelle Dover said.
The program allows each of its students to make history: being the first in their family to attend and graduate college. However, the $230,000 in federal funding would disappear if the Bush administration's budget proposal holds up, potentially holding future students back.
"I've reaped all the benefits from it, but to leave all these potential world changers, to leave those kids behind, it's going to affect them, it's going to affect me," Dyson said.
"I don't see why the government is so worried about education and comparing between nations, and then they're going to cut education right out of the water," Dover said.
Aside from classroom time, Upward Bound students do community service and travel the country touring potential colleges. Without Upward Bound, Rachel Dover wouldn't have seen Florida A&M's campus, the university she'll proudly attend this fall.
"It's been worth it every day. Every day we learn something else, we find something else about the world, and it opens your mind to see them much more than just Machesney Park, Loves Park and Rockford."
And with the area's 50 Upward Bound students placing 100 percent of its students in college, along with higher ACT scores than their fellow classmates, these Harlem seniors can't believe a proven program could soon be history.
"If I hadn't been in Upward bound I probably wouldn't even be going to school. I'd probably be stuck working at Beef-A-Roo, flipping burgers for the rest of my life," Dover said.
There are 780 Upward Bound Programs across the country. If you'd like to know more about the program, you can contact Upward Bound at (815) 921-4235.