Every gift helps

The Abell Foundation is committed to improving health, economic, and educational outcomes in Baltimore City so that all people can thrive. Since 2008, they have supported The University of Baltimore’s own efforts to serve residents through numerous community outreach, advocacy and service programs.

In 1987, President Robert C. Embry Jr. and the Trustees “established the Foundation’s guiding purpose: to improve the quality of life in Baltimore. Specifically, they prioritized creating opportunities for Baltimoreans living in concentrated poverty by working to address systemic social, economic, and environmental challenges.”

Embry added, “The Abell Foundation has been a long-time supporter of the University of Baltimore not just because of its role as an educational institution but also because of the many ways in which its faculty and students work to protect the vulnerable and make our city a more humane and equitable place. The University shares Abell’s commitment to fostering justice and improving health, economic and educational outcomes in Baltimore city, and we have been proud to support a wide variety of its initiatives.”

During FY2023, three programs in the School of Law were able to make significant strides towards improving the quality of life in Baltimore thanks to the Foundation’s generosity.

Formerly known as the “Truancy Court Program,” the Tackling Chronic Absenteeism Project (TCAP) at the Sayra and Neil Meyerhoff Center for Families, Children and the Courts (CFCC), helps Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) students and their families overcome barriers to school attendance, including incarceration, hunger, homelessness, violence and poverty.

Abell generously increased its program support last year, allowing Executive Director Aubrey Edwards-Luce to subsidize grant-funded salaries during their renewal periods, so as not to disrupt services to clients. Funds were also used to create a Case Manager position, which saw the return of alum Christopher Kelly, B.A. ’18, M.S. ’22—a Baltimore native, BCPS graduate and former CFCC law clerk intern—to campus, bringing his personal, institutional and local experience to this new role.

These staffing improvements enabled TCAP to add three schools to its service roster during the 2022-2023 school year, as well as explore the expansion of family programs to help support improved attendance from inside the home.

New gifts were also made by the Abell Foundation to two other UBalt programs that provide service and advocacy for survivors of crime.

The Human Trafficking Prevention Project (HTPP), was founded as part of the clinical law program in 2015, and expanded to include a partnership with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service in 2017. The Project pioneered the provision of criminal record relief for survivors of human trafficking in Baltimore and throughout Maryland.

The program quickly grew to provide preventative support for populations at extremely high risk of exploitation. Thanks to funding from Abell, HTPP began transitioning from a clinical program to an independent nonprofit organization that can focus on direct legal representation for their expanded client pool and increase in-person community outreach.

An initial round of funding was also awarded for the University to provide services in support of Abell’s work to bring restorative change to the Maryland’s Victims Compensation Fund, primarily by promoting community-driven initiatives to expand statewide access. Heather Warnken, executive director of UBalt’s Center for Criminal Justice Reform, is spearheading legislative and advocacy efforts on behalf of victims.

Funds from the Abell Foundation were used to host listening sessions with victims and their families, as well as cover the costs to transport victims to Annapolis to provide impact statements, so that their stories are considered as legislation is revised with a goal to remedy the systemic and administrative flaws in the programs that currently provide crime victims with financial assistance.


Established in FY2023, The Diana Gibson Opportunity Award for Excellence in Public Service was created in memory of Diana Gibson, a dedicated public servant, to help fund professional development opportunities for College of Public Affairs students. Following her 25-year teaching career in Baltimore, Diana went on to provide invaluable support to UBalt president Kurt Schmoke during his 1987 mayoral campaign and throughout his 12 years in office.

The University of Baltimore offered a public policy degree path that spoke to me on many levels. I am a third-generation UBalt student following in the footsteps of my uncle and grandfather who both received law degrees here. I knew based on their experience that it was a great school, and I have not been disappointed! The classes are engaging and challenging, and my professors are supportive and professional. Currently, I’m also a Community Development Fellow, working for the Upton Planning Committee, Inc. This practical experience in nonprofit work is giving me the knowledge I will need to become a legislative advocate and focus on worker’s rights.”