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USM announces $8.8 million milestone reached for Promise Scholarship

The University of Southern Maine (USM) announced it has reached a major milestone in its campaign for the Promise Scholarship Program, which serves first-generation USM students with significant financial need. Over the past three years, more than $8.8 million has been raised for Promise, including over $7.5 million needed to endow the USM Promise Scholarship in perpetuity. The Campaign’s success enables the University to support up to 100 Promise Scholars every year, with personalized scholarship awards that bridge the financial aid gap and help students graduate in four years with little or no debt. 

Unique to USM, the Promise Scholarship Program is more than a scholarship. USM works with more than 30 nonprofit partners and community colleges to identify, cultivate and refer talented and deserving candidates to apply to USM and to the Promise Scholars Program. In addition to the scholarship, the University also provides a robust academic, personal and peer support system to help Promise Scholars overcome financial, academic, and cultural barriers, remain in school, and successfully earn their degrees. 

“The Promise Scholarship Program is at the heart of our mission to ensure access, affordability and success for all students,” said USM President Glenn Cummings. “It has proven to be a supportive model that works, and a lifeline to many of our first-generation college students during these difficult times. The success of the Promise Campaign is a signature achievement, ensuring that this important USM scholarship program will be here for the long term. And with continued philanthropic support for Promise, we will be able to serve ever greater numbers of deserving students in the future.” 

The Promise Scholarship Program at USM began with two students who dreamed of going to college — and two people who wanted to make these dreams a reality. 


Promise Scholarship Campaign founders and co-chairs Richard and Carolyn McGoldrick of Scarborough commented in a joint statement, “We are both humbled and gratified at the outpouring of support generated by the Promise Scholarship Campaign. When the program began, we could not fully imagine the extent of the impact it would have on young people’s lives.

 “Over the last three years, our commitment to Promise has deepened with each student we have been privileged to meet.  Promise Scholars are resilient, hard-working, generous and above all appreciative of the support they receive from people in our community. We have come to understand that the Promise Scholarship not only benefits them but also their families and the communities where they live. They are already making their mark.”

To date, the program has shown remarkable success, particularly in light of the unprecedented challenges faced by students during the pandemic. During COVID, 100 percent of Promise Scholars were retained from spring to fall semester, a testament to the highly engaged Promise staff, including program coordinator Daniel Barton, who promote personal and academic resilience through high-touch supports. In aggregate, USM’s first two Promise classes (enrolled in 2018 and 2019) achieved an impressive 93 percent retention rate and 75 percent of them qualified for merit scholarships based on their success. This fall, USM welcomed its third cohort of Promise Scholars, who represent high schools all over the state of Maine. 

Promise Scholars Program at a Glance:

Promise helps talented students overcome financial, academic, and cultural barriers, remain in school, and graduate in four years with little or no debt. 

The Program:

Serves first-generation Maine undergraduates and veterans

Works in close partnership with Maine’s youth development organizations

Provides a robust academic and social support system to ensure success

Intensive Individual & Cohort Support 

Program Goal:

To award 100 (25 per class) talented Maine students every year through endowed and spendable funds, providing a major portion of financial aid to close the gap on all other aid and awards including Pell Grants, merit scholarships and state aid.

Watch the Promise Milestone Video