USM Receives $4 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Education to Advance Student Success

Baltimore, Md. (Dec. 15, 2023) – The P-20 Education Division within the University System of Maryland’s (USM) Office for Academic and Student Affairs has won a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to foster student success.

The project will build and train a corps of “peer mentors” at each of 11 participating USM universities. These peer mentors will help newly enrolled students navigate their first year by connecting them with the multiple support resources already available on every campus. The grant is known as “Maryland’s ABCs for Student Success: Advising, Belonging, and Coaching.”

Examples of support resources include mental health services, writing centers, math centers, and other forms of academic support. The combination of peer mentoring and greater use of support resources will help students cultivate a sense of “belonging” in their campus community.

The four-year grant is issued under the Department of Education’s Postsecondary Student Success Grant program.

“All of our USM institutions have been proactive in building strong support systems for student success. With this grant, we will create a cadre of peer mentors to help students navigate the system and find the support they need to persist, graduate, and reach their goals,” said Nancy Shapiro, associate vice chancellor for education and outreach and special assistant to the chancellor for P-20 education.

Students from historically underserved groups continue to experience persistent and significant gaps in college enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. USM universities are therefore focusing efforts on ensuring that underserved students especially are supported to graduation.

The USM’s ABCs program will help students succeed through a comprehensive system of coaching-inspired advising and mentoring. The effort begins with creating Communities of Practice that include administrators, advisors, trainers of peer mentors, and data liaisons. Collectively, these professionals will train, evaluate, and support advisors and peer mentors at each university, leveraging existing resources and expertise to equip students with what they need to meet their degree requirements.

A foundation for the work came from a research project funded by the Abell Foundation two years ago. The project examined success and barriers for Baltimore City students at USM universities.


The USM comprises 12 institutions: Bowie State University; Coppin State University; Frostburg State University; Salisbury University; Towson University; the University of Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science; the University of Maryland, College Park; the University of Maryland Eastern Shore; and the University of Maryland Global Campus. The USM also includes three regional centers—the Universities at Shady Grove, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, and the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland—at which USM universities offer upper-division undergraduate and graduate courses.

USM institutions and programs are among the nation’s best in quality and value according to several national rankings. To learn more about the University System of Maryland, visit To learn about the new USM Strategic Plan, “Vision 2030: From Excellence to Preeminence,” visit


Contact: Mike Lurie
Phone: 301.445.2719