Shortly after President C. D. Mote, Jr. began his tenure at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1998, he noticed an alarming trend - few students from Baltimore City high schools applied to and subsequently matriculated at the state's flagship university. Of particular concern was that the overwhelming majority of students came from three citywide high schools: Baltimore City College, Baltimore Polytechnic and Western. There was little or no representation from the majority of high schools in the city.
Modeled after a program at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Maryland Incentive Awards Program is designed to recognize and promote scholarship, community responsibility and leadership among students from disadvantaged circumstances, and to make it financially possible for selected students to matriculate at the University of Maryland. Launched as a pilot program in Baltimore City, the program has since expanded to include Prince George's County.
"This is not simply a scholarship program, it is much, much more," Mote says. "We are offering an opportunity for students, who in many cases have not dared to dream beyond their neighborhoods, to use the resources of the state's premier research university to create a future for themselves in the global marketplace. We commit to doing everything within our power to help them succeed.... We expect that the scholars and alumni of the program will, in the coming years, be a powerful force in shaping the expectations of many students from these schools, not just in competition for the Incentive Award, but in raising their sights to the possibilities of a college education and the opportunities it provides," Mote says. "I'm concerned about these kids, and I want more of them to turn to us to help them create their futures."
"I know from my earlier experience that this program has the potential to have a tremendous impact on these students, on their communities, and on the university's relationship with them. We hope to build a culture within the community and within the university that advocates for the success of these students who have demonstrated the personal commitment to lift themselves up."