Upward Bound emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to President Lyndon B. Johnson administration's War on Poverty. It is a pre-college program designed to assist students to overcome class, academic, social, and cultural barriers to higher education. In addition to the Upward Bound Program housed at Monroe County Community College, there are over 650 programs in operation throughout the United States and its territories. At least two-thirds of each project's participants must be both low-income and potential first-generation college students. The balance of the participants may be both over-income and potential first-generation college students. The vast majority of Upward Bound projects are "hosted" by two- or four-year colleges.

The purpose of the program is to provide high school students with support in developing and enhancing motivation and skills necessary for graduation from high school, enrollment in a college or university, and ultimately graduation. It is the oldest and largest of the federal TRIO programs, all sharing the objective of helping students achieve success at the post-secondary level. 
Upward Bound programs offer extensive academic instruction as well as counseling, mentoring, tutoring and other support services. In addition to regularly scheduled meetings throughout the academic year, projects also offer an intensive instructional program that meets daily for about six weeks during the summer at MCCC. Students typically enter the program in their freshman or sophomore year of high school and can remain a participant through the summer following high school graduation.