Baltimore holds special meaning for lifelong residents Arnold I. ’69 and Alison L. Richman ’69, and they want others from their hometown to thrive.

The couple, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, turned that motivation into a substantial contribution to the University of Maryland’s Incentive Awards Program (IAP), which supports students who graduated from Baltimore City and Prince George’s County high schools and demonstrate academic ability and persistence despite difficult circumstances.

Alison and Arnie Richman headshot“We love the city—we know it’s got its challenges,” Arnie said. “If we could help some kids from Baltimore become important contributors to their own community through education, that’s a great investment.”

One-third of their gift will support Baltimore City students—both now, through the Baltimore Incentive Awards Program Fund, and for years to come, through the establishment of the Richman Baltimore Incentive Awards Program Support Endowment to enhance the IAP student experience. This includes academic coaching, advising and mentorship, which are among the wraparound services in IAP that the Richmans appreciate.

The remaining two-thirds of their gift will establish the need-based Richman Baltimore Maryland Promise Scholarship, with preference given to IAP students. This portion, the largest Maryland Promise gift to date, will be matched dollar-for-dollar through the Clark Challenge. This gift expands the next IAP cohort by almost 50% in the first year and brings sustained growth for the program as the endowment increases. 

“This is a game-changer for IAP,” said Jacqueline W. Lee, the program’s director. “Their gift will enable us to expand our reach within Baltimore City and help secure the future of the program.”

The couple learned the value of giving back from their parents and grandparents, who “were always charitable in the community with either money, time or both,” Arnie said. He and Alison kept that in mind while the high school sweethearts attended UMD together, where he studied psychology and she early childhood education, leading to careers in senior living communities and adoption social work, respectively.

“I think both of us naturally went into professions where we were helping others,” Alison said.

Success in those fields allowed them to ramp up their philanthropic efforts, with three main focuses: health care, education and youth. When they were introduced to IAP around its launch nearly 20 years ago, the initiative seemed like a great fit. As part of their long-held commitment to support Baltimore City students from early education through college, they began annual contributions, leading up to their most recent gift.

“Both of us had a very good experience (at Maryland) and felt that students who couldn’t afford it deserved to have that opportunity,” Arnie said. “(IAP is) more than just a scholarship program. It’s really a program that makes young people into strong adults.”

They’re looking forward to seeing how their donation bolsters those academic, social and emotional aspects of IAP in the long term, creating a lasting community.

“Their gift signifies an abiding belief in the capacity of Baltimore City students to achieve,” Lee said. “It will encourage our scholars to know that there are people from their hometown who are rooting for their success.”