Upward Bound is one of the Federal TRIO Programs. These programs are educational outreach programs designed to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO includes five distinct outreach programs targeted to serve and assist students to progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

The history of TRIO is progressive. It began with Upward Bound, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the administration's War on Poverty. In 1965, Educational Talent Search, the second outreach program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services, originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in this series of educational opportunity programs. By the late 1960s, the term "TRIO" was termed to describe these three federal programs.

Over the years, the TRIO Programs have been expanded and improved to provide a wider range of services and to reach more students who need assistance. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 added the fourth program to the TRIO group by authorizing the Educational Opportunity Centers. Other TRIO programs include Veterans Upward Bound, Ronald McNair (post-baccalaureate), and the Regional Math and Science Upward Bound Programs.