SmartyScholars provides free test prep services to talented, low income students from Baltimore-area high schools so that they can gain admission into top 20 colleges with comprehensive financial aid packages.
Get Involved

Our summer bootcamp has expanded to 60 students for the summer of 2020.  Due to COVID-19, we are currently in the process of adapting the program to be virtual.  However, we need your help. With a virtual program comes unexpected costs to cover our need for 60 chromebooks, 60 hotspots, and 45 calculators.

A donation of $150 covers the cost of a chromebook for one student in need. A donation of $50 covers the cost of a hotspot for a student without reliable home wifi.

A donation of $100 covers the cost of a graphing calculator.  We are also accepting donations for used graphing calculators. Please email Molly Brambil at molly@smartyscholars.org if you would like to donate a used calculator.

We also plan to provide our students with breakfast and lunch and to coordinate pick up locations around the city so that students will not be learning on empty stomachs. The cost associated with feeding one kid for the summer is $200. 

If you would like to donate, please do so here.

Scholar of the Month
John McFadden
John is part of our pilot SmartyScholars boot camp. He was featured on WJZ, and is tenaciously motivated. WJZ feature! Baltimore Sun Feature!
Who are you dedicating your hard work to? My family

College goals: Wherever I go, I want a full scholarship

Professional Goals: To become either a civil, mechanical, or electrical engineer


The Impact
There is no shortage of high achieving, low-income students in Baltimore, but structural barriers, such as college admissions testing, often keep these students from applying and achieving admission to elite schools. It is often only the elite schools that are able to offer need-blind admissions and comprehensive financial aid packages.
Data from Pell grant recipients has shown that that high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds graduate at much higher rates when they attend resource rich, more selective universities.
See the data...
  • Only 3% of students at the nation’s top colleges come from families in the bottom 25% income bracket.
  • 60 percent of the wealthiest students complete their studies and graduate, but only about 16 percent of low-income college students graduate, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. However, low income students at elite colleges (which tend to have already higher graduation rates) graduate at almost the same rate as affluent students and end up earning almost as much on average as affluent students who attend the same college.
  • There are 29 colleges with graduation rates over 90% for Black and Latina students.  Here are the top ten: Brown University, Pomona College, Harvard University, University of Notre Dame, Skidmore College, Scripps College, Davidson College, Emory University, Stanford University, Wesleyan University.
  • Low-income students who attend selective colleges are less likely to have debt than those who attend low-tier colleges.  Typical lower-income students  (from a family earning $50,000 or less) face an annual bill of $6,000 at top private colleges.  
  • Elite colleges, as compared to less selective institutions, offer low income students peer mentoring, transition programs, and supportive advising at a higher rate.
After my SmartyScholars program, I improved by 150 points on my SAT score, and yesterday I was accepted into Johns Hopkins University with [comprehensive financial aid]. Mauricio Rodriguez

Total Value of Scholarships Awarded to 2018-19 Cohort

SmartyScholars 2018-19 Cohort Acceptances:
*Full-tuition financial aid
Brown University*
Johns Hopkins University* (2)
University of Maryland, College Park Honors College* (2)
New York University
Lehigh University*
Rutgers University
Virginia Tech
UMBC (2)
Penn State
NC State
Williams College
Amherst College
Howard University
Delaware State University
North Carolina A&T State University
University of Southern California
Howard University
Goucher College
Emerson College
The New School
Washington and Jefferson College
Wagner College
Lincoln College

Our Partners

SmartyScholars, Inc. (“SS”) is a Maryland nonprofit corporation operating through a fiscal sponsorship with Players Philanthropy Fund (Federal Tax ID: 27-6601178), a Maryland charitable trust with federal tax-exempt status as a public charity under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contributions to SS are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.