The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday March 5th

Project Uplift celebrates 50 years of promoting diversity in higher ed

Jamal Smith, a first year undergraduate student at UNC, discusses how Project Uplift is special to him. Smith says the sense of community that he felt at Project Uplift, and the friendships he made were the reason why he chose UNC over Duke.
Buy Photos Jamal Smith, a first year undergraduate student at UNC, discusses how Project Uplift is special to him. Smith says the sense of community that he felt at Project Uplift, and the friendships he made were the reason why he chose UNC over Duke.

Project Uplift celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday with a brunch at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel.

Since its creation in 1969, the program has provided over 35,000 rising high school seniors the opportunity to experience college life at UNC. The immersive two-day camp allows participants to stay on campus and interact with students, faculty and staff. 

Project Uplift works to promote and increase access to higher education for students from backgrounds under-represented in post-secondary education, according to the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion website. Participants have the chance to immerse themselves in college life and experience the academic rigor and social climate of a four-year institution before graduating high school, the website says. 

“Prior to this program, there were only a handful of students of color at Chapel Hill,” said Archie Ervin, co-chairperson of the Anniversary Advisory Committee. “Black student leaders at the time demanded that the University do something, but they could never have foreseen that this initiative would literally become the entryway for tens of thousands of students.”

During their stay, participants may attend mock college classes and information sessions that explore some of the majors offered through UNC. 

The program also teaches students about college admissions and affordability in an effort to connect them with other four-year colleges and universities. 

“Some of the perks of the program include SAT and ACT prep and a scholarship and aid session,” said Rachel Tates, the director of student access and success within the Office for Diversity & Inclusion. 

Student counselors are also provided as an extra resource for participants hoping to learn more about Carolina. 

“Typically about 60 percent of the students who participate apply to come to UNC, and of those, about 60 percent are admitted,” Tates said. 

In addition to Project Uplift, the University began Uplift PLUS five years ago, which allows prospective students to live on campus for five weeks during summer session two as part of a summer academic enrichment and college readiness program. Of those students, Tates said the majority are admitted.

“Project Uplift has long been a place for students of color to come and envision themselves at Carolina,” said Angelia Duncan, co-chairperson of the Anniversary Advisory Committee.

The anniversary event was attended by interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and over 120 UNC alumni, some of whom had previously participated in Project Uplift.

“This program has probably been the most impactful diversity initiative for 50 years at Chapel Hill,” Ervin said. 

university@dailytarheel.com

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