Creating Baltimore City Scholarships
With your help, I’d like to make St. Mary’s College one that others strive to support, attracted to a vision that has captured our imaginations: I think of it as elite egalitarianism – an elite education that is not elitist, but one accessible by standards of intellectual, not financial, capacity. – Joseph Urgo
Determined to preserve and enhance St. Mary’s College of Maryland as a public trust, President Joseph Urgo has embarked on a mission to ensure that the College remains accessible to any student who is up to the academic challenge. In order to fully realize its promise as a premier public liberal arts education – affordable to all, thriving on diversity, with high standards of academic excellence – the College must increase the philanthropic support it receives.
For students who are ready for the College’s academic rigor, St. Mary’s is an inviting and welcoming environment. The College’s small, residential campus – an enrollment of 2,000 and a student to faculty ratio of 12:1 – necessitates an intimate living and learning experience that has proven to be advantageous to first-generation college students who are the first in their families to navigate higher education. The College serves and graduates students at the same rate regardless of their socioeconomic background and financial need. One of the College’s priorities, and strengths, is our outreach to Baltimore City, a city that has a greater minority population with lower median family incomes and educational attainment than Baltimore County and Maryland. The College has formed partnerships, with CollegeBound for example, and created programs to enhance opportunities for underrepresented students: the DeSousa-Brent Scholars program cultivates students’ academic and leadership potential and the Emerging Scholars program provides intensive curriculum support to students in the sciences.
The College is not only working hard to recruit and retain talented students from Baltimore City, but also is developing relationships with leaders to secure philanthropic commitments to provide scholarships for students with few financial resources. In August 2011, the France-Merrick Foundation approved a challenge grant in the amount of $100,000 that is contingent on the College raising $400,000 to support students from Baltimore City. The France-Merrick Challenge is a call to action, a call to those who understand the intrinsic value of giving and the importance of making such investment decisions, a call to transform the lives of academically proficient students who are unable to pay the full cost of tuition.
Support for Baltimore City students will contribute to the end of the cycle of deficient education that afflicts too many families in America, and which weakens the competitiveness of our workforce. A gift designated to the Baltimore City Scholarship Initiative will provide access to the St. Mary’s experience and a benefit to the greater community as St. Mary’s graduates return to Baltimore City to live and work.
 A Descriptive Look at College Enrollment and Degree Completion of Baltimore City Graduates, Rachel E. Durham and Erik Westlund, Baltimore Education Research Consortium, 2011.