Abell Salutes: Ingenuity

March 2003 / Salutes / Education

For taking Baltimore City public school students “all the way to the top.”

In December, 2002, two twelfth grade students from the Ingenuity Project were accepted into Harvard; five others competed in the prestigious Siemens–Westinghouse contest; nine into the Intel Science Talent Search. Ingenuity graduates are doing exceedingly well at Yale, Morehouse, the U.S. Naval Academy. An Ingenuity tenth-grade student was one of only 250 students in the nation to make it to the semi-final round of American Mathematics Competition, against 12,000 high school students—an unprecedented achievement for a student in the Baltimore City public schools. What is Ingenuity, and what is there about the program that so enriches students’ academic performance that they move quickly to the top tier of America’s achieving students?

The Ingenuity Project, now in its ninth year, represents The Abell Foundation’s support of an ambitious effort to provide an accelerated math and science curriculum to Baltimore City middle and high school students, grades six through twelve at three middle schools and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Its goal is to nurture and develop students from Baltimore City’s public schools early and intensely, so that they can achieve the project’s symbolic goal of competing and winning in the Intel Science Talent Search (formerly the Westinghouse Talent Search). One hundred percent of Ingenuity’s high school students enter four-year colleges; the class of 2002 total scholarship awards exceeded $3,000,000.

There are 120 Ingenuity students in each grade at the middle school level but only the highly qualified eighth grade students are selected each year for the high school portion of the program housed at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. In fall, 2002, 50 students were accepted in the ninth grade — the largest number ever to have qualified. Ingenuity has recently started a math and science program at Federal Hill Elementary for grades one through five.

Karol Costa, Director of Ingenuity, is in the fortunate position of watching the whole process at work. “We begin by looking for promising fifth grade students who are then chosen to attend selected middle schools—Robert Poole, Roland Park, Southeast, and In September, Garrison. To watch these kids starting out in the sixth grade and to see them go all the way to the top, on to winning prestigious awards, and being accepted into the best colleges in the country—it is all incredibly gratifying.”

The Abell Foundation salutes Ingenuity, its leadership and its staff, first, for identifying promising students within the Baltimore City public school system, and then—for taking them “all the way to the top.”