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Spread Thin


Washington Antipoverty officials have apparently decided to cripple one of their most effective programs in Cambridge. Despite appeals from administrators at the School of Education, they have refused a request from Harvard's Upward Bound program for an additional $60,000 in funds. The program, which is designed to open educational opportunities and incentives for high school students, planned to use the budget increase to serve another 25 young people--a 25 per cent increase in enrollment. Officials believed that this increase was essential to raise the program's operations above a mere subsistence level.

The ruling in this case represents a policy decision that may have major consequences for similar programs across the country. According to the national director of Upward Bound, Richard Frost, it means that the Office of Economic Opportunity has resolved to use the $2.5 million appropriations increase it received for Upward Bound from Congress to begin new programs, instead of increasing the effectiveness of those already in existence. Many of these programs, like the one in Cambridge, are barely hanging on. But OEO is under intense pressure to spread funds thin and make the President's War on Poverty visible in more constituencies.

Antipoverty officials will decide within the next two weeks whether to grant Haravrd Upward Bound a compromise request. Administrators at the School of Education insist that the program will continue, with undiminished energy and enthusiasm, even if OEO rejects the proposal. But it will remain, for another year at least, merely a stab in the dark.

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