Catalyst Magazine

School of Social Work

The University of Maryland School of Social Work (UMSSW) is one of the most respected schools of social work in America. Each day, our faculty and students secure a better life for many citizens by strengthening family and social institutions, forging community improvements with local organizations, and protecting the future of our children. As national leaders, we create and use knowledge for education, service innovation, and policy development.

Support through the Catalyst Campaign has helped the School of Social Work continue its cutting-edge instruction, research, and community outreach efforts. The impact of improved lives and communities, meaningful research, and better policies is truly changing our world for the better.

High school students from Renaissance Academy, part of the Promise Heights initiative, participated in the Next Generation Scholars program. The School of Social Work provides the high school with services directed by a full-time community schools coordinator.

Innovation and Discovery

More than $40 million in grant funding was awarded to the School of Social Work to advance compelling research and speed the evolution of new interventions that reshape individual lives and communities. Our faculty members are making strides in areas such as men’s mental health and suicide rates, opioid use, antiracist child and family systems, and more.

Student Scholarships

A concentrated effort from our Board of Advisors significantly increased student scholarships at the School of Social Work. We now offer more than 80 scholarships, helping us to continue to attract and enroll a diverse group of excellent students and ensuring our students aren’t limited by financial barriers.

Endowed Professorships

New chaired professorships, including the Alison Richman Professorship for Children, Youth, and Families and the Richard P. Barth Professorship in Children’s Services Research, are allowing us to recruit, retain, and support leading scholars and translate research into genuine, transformative benefit.

Promise Heights and B’more for Healthy Babies

Promise Heights, a cradle-to-career pipeline, is led by the School of Social Work and has created a series of wraparound services that begins with prenatal care and continues through eighth grade. This approach seeks to surround children and families with a holistic set of supports that enables them to succeed at home, in school, and in the community.

After more than a decade of sustained investment, our B’more for Healthy Babies program, a Promise Heights initiative, celebrated a 75 percent reduction in the infant mortality rate in Upton/Druid Heights. The neighborhood — among Baltimore’s least wealthy and almost entirely Black — now has an infant mortality rate lower than the city’s overall white infant mortality rate and is comparable to Baltimore communities that are wealthier and less negatively affected by social determinants of health.

Student Financial Emergency Fund

In January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, a gift from Blanche Cody, MSW ’75, established the Werblun Student Emergency Fund to provide assistance to students facing unexpected financial burdens. Thanks to this gift and the work of our team to create a new process for addressing student emergency needs, we were able to act quickly and support our students. The fund quickly gained momentum and raised over $52,000 from more than 360 alumni. We were able to use our experience to assist other University System of Maryland institutions as well as schools and universities throughout the nation in setting up their own student emergency funds.

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UMB Staff

CATALYST magazine

Executive Board

Lynne Henry, Laura Kozak, Larry Kushner, Jennifer Litchman, Thomas Sullivan, Kate Ostrowski


Lynne Henry

Managing Editor

Chris Zang

Assistant Editor

Kate Ostrowski

Photography Director

Matthew D’Agostino


Michelle Baffuto

Web Director

Amir Chamsaz

Marketing Manager

Kristi McGuire