cuub program staff pose for a photo together with the flatirons visible behind them


​​The CU Upward Bound Program (CUUB) recognizes that Native American youth remain the single most underrepresented racial/ethnic group in postsecondary education, and they remain gravely underserved in high school. ​Since its inception in 1981, CUUB has dedicated itself to bringing the mission of Upward Bound to Native American youth. CUUB currently serves 103 high school students from 12 high schools located in or near six different tribal communities: Navajo, Ramah Navajo, Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, Pine Ridge and Jemez Pueblo. Nationwide, about 74 percent of Indigenous students graduate from public high school, but only 24 percent of these students attend college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. 

Through CUUB’s efforts, about 76 percent of CUUB students graduate from high school and attend college. 

Mission, Vision & Values

CUUB Mission

Challenge students to embrace the rigors of critical thinking and attaining content-confidence throughout the academic year, and during the summer, in a college environment that is both geographically and culturally distant from their reservation communities.

Protect the cultural identities of its students through an emphasis on cultural knowledge and empowerment in the classroom.

Connect students with real-world Indigenous issues and networks to demonstrate what is at stake and what is possible for them beyond the classroom.

the CU Upward Bound logo which features stylized graphic art of a buffalo with a dream catcher for a bodyCUUB Vision

CUUB's vision is to inspire and empower students to succeed and to celebrate their cultural identities in whatever postsecondary path they chose.

CUUB Core Values: O.U.R F.I.R.E 

These values are the core of our program, guiding the actions of each CUUB community member and helping us carry out our mission. Every CUUB member, from the directors to the students, strives to embody these values, which are about making sure that each of us is supported and can find our own version of success and happiness. 

The O.U.R F.I.R.E Values come from CUUB’s firm belief that everyone has a gift. Everyone has a light, a fire, inside of them that they bring to the communities they join. In a community like CUUB, the fires we bring can bring warmth and light to the collective; we can lend fire to each other’s struggles, reignite and inspire each other to succeed and ultimately become stronger together. 

Experiential learning is a hallmark of the CUUB program and is something that everyone, from the students to the staff to the Directors, must recommit themselves to each year. For CUUB to be sustained and sustain its members, all of us must be willing to embrace new experiences, encounter new people and cultures and step outside of their comfort zones. CUUB believes that all of us are meant for something beyond ourselves, but we can’t hope to realize that potential if we remain closed to the gifts that the Universe provides us.

Everyone who joins the CUUB community brings their own struggles with adversity, and the ability to stand up after being knocked down is something we cultivate at CUUB through our Indigenous-centered pedagogical philosophy. Ultimately, CUUB teaches that resiliency comes not only from within each participant, but also from the group as a whole. Together CUUB is unbreakable.

For CUUB, respect begins with acknowledging that all things are connected, that everyone is related. Respect happens when those relations are honored through words and actions, which means that the wellness of the relation is considered and actively protected. In CUUB, every community member must demonstrate respect for: the environment shared, the spaces entered, the community built together, elders, the roles occupied, one another and ourselves.

It is critical that CUUB students and staff see themselves as a family, where the success of one member is mutually dependent upon the success and wellness and sustainability of all the members.. Furthermore, as CUUB students prepare for postsecondary academic paths, CUUB recognizes that relying on family is vital for students to persist in spite of the unique stressors they will encounter. CUUB members must respect that everyone has different experiences within the concept of family, but one thing CUUB can provide is a shared family for all to rely on as they move forward on their paths.

The worth of CUUB students cannot be measured in the grades, test scores and assessments they receive in the CUUB program or in their schools. In fact, nothing can measure or capture their worth. Whereas Western models of education pressure students to perform, achieve and produce along capitalist scales of value, CUUB reminds all of its members that they are invaluable and that nothing can reduce their worth.

Reciprocity goes hand-in-hand with Respect: by acknowledging your relationships, you can learn how to better yourself through those connections and how you can enrich the world around you. Reciprocity moves beyond teaching students how to be resourceful and to take advantage of the concepts, strategies and institutions around them to succeed and toward a sustainable model of interdependent growth. Reciprocity has both an intrapersonal and interpersonal component. CUUB believes that in order to sustain the fire within each of us, we must be mindful of the reciprocal relationship between our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical selves. And, we must work toward a balance between all of them. CUUB also believes that our collective fire is one that is sustained by mindfulness of each person within the community. When one of us is feeling burnt out, it affects the whole, so we must actively uplift each other in order to uplift ourselves. Your fire is connected to mine, your struggle is my struggle, your wellness is tied to my wellness, and when you grow I do as well.

In a certain sense, empathy is a prerequisite for all of the OUR FIRE values, because it requires us to imagine ourselves in the position of another. Without taking that step to think outside of oneself, all of the other values can become self-serving and unsustainable. Through active listening and imagining, empathy allows us to de-center ourselves within the collective. This helps us to see and feel not only the struggles of another member of the collective, but also their unique gifts and purpose. Empathy therefore informs all of our actions in the collective, because it teaches us how to ease struggle, nurture gifts and help each other find purpose. And empathy also involves the trust that the rest of the community will do the same for you.