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UMD Receives Gold Seal for Excellence in Student Voter Agreement

November 18, 2019
Contacts: 

Zimri Diaz zimri@umd.edu 301-314-8402

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — At the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates, UMD received a gold seal for achieving a student rate between 40% and 49%. A full list of seal awardees can be viewedhere
 
“The university is proud to receive this recognition on behalf of Terps Vote,” said John Zacker, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. “Students, faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to increase voter turnout and civic engagement on campus. This achievement is proof that our students are prepared to meet and solve the nation’s most pressing challenges beginning with going to the polls to make their voices heard."
 
Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm elections to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points from 19% to 40%. UMD’s data reveals that our student population voted at even higher rates, with a 2018 voting rate of 46%.
 
“We are excited to honor UMD with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like UMD are changing culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”
 
TheALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. 
 
More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.
 
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University of Maryland Researchers’ Study of Vaccine-Related Facebook Ads Reveals Ongoing Challenges for Public Health

November 15, 2019
Contacts: 

Kelly Blake kellyb@umd.edu, 301-405-9418

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- In a year that has seen the largest measles outbreak in the US in more than two decades, the role of social media in giving a platform to unscientific anti-vaccine messages and organizations has become a flashpoint.
 
In the first study of public health-related Facebook advertising, newly published in the journal Vaccine, researchers at the University of Maryland, the George Washington University and Johns Hopkins University show that a small group of anti-vaccine ad buyers has successfully leveraged Facebook to reach targeted audiences and that the social media platform’s efforts to improve transparency have actually led to the removal of ads promoting vaccination and communicating scientific findings. 
 
The research calls attention to the threat of social media misinformation as it may contribute to increasing “vaccine hesitancy,” which the World Health Organization ranks among the top threats to global health this year. This increasing reluctance or refusal to vaccinate threatens to reverse the progress made in halting vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles, which has seen a 30% increase in cases globally. 
 
The research team, co-led by UMD’s Dr. Sandra C. Quinn, GW’s Dr. David Broniatowski and JHU’s Dr. Mark Dredze, examined more than 500 vaccine-related ads served to Facebook users and archived in Facebook’s Ad Library. This archive, which became available in late 2018, catalogued ad content related to “issues of national importance.” Their findings reveal that the majority of advertisements (54%) which opposed vaccination, were posted by only two groups funded by private individuals, the World Mercury Project and Stop Mandatory Vaccination, and emphasized the purported harms of vaccination. 
 
“The average person might think that this anti-vaccine movement is a grassroots effort led by parents, but what we see on Facebook is that there are a handful of well-connected, powerful people who are responsible for the majority of advertisements. These buyers are more organized than people think,” said Amelia Jamison, a faculty research assistant in the Maryland Center for Health Equity, and the study’s first author. 
 
In contrast, those ads promoting vaccination did not reflect a common or organized theme or funder, and were focused on trying to get people vaccinated against a specific disease in a targeted population. Examples included ads for a local WalMart’s flu vaccine clinic or the Gates Foundation campaign against polio. 
 
Yet, because Facebook categorizes ads about vaccines as “political,” it has led the platform to reject some pro-vaccine messages. “By accepting the framing of vaccine opponents – that vaccination is a political topic, rather than one on which there is widespread public agreement and scientific consensus – Facebook perpetuates the false idea that there is even a debate to be had,” said David Broniatowski, associate professor of engineering management and systems engineering at GW, and principal investigator of the study. “This leads to increased vaccine hesitancy, and ultimately, more epidemics.”
 
Facebook is a pervasive presence in the lives of many people, meaning its decisions about how to handle vaccine messaging have far-reaching and serious consequences, said Sandra Crouse Quinn, professor and chair of the Department of Family Science at UMD’s School of Public Health, and a principal investigator on the study.
 
“In today’s social media world, Facebook looms large as a source of information for many, yet their policies have made it more difficult for users to discern what is legitimate, credible vaccine information. This puts public health officials, with limited staff resources for social media campaigns, at a true disadvantage, just when we need to communicate the urgency of vaccines as a means to protect our children and our families,” said Sandra Crouse Quinn, professor and chair of the Department of Family Science at UMD’s School of Public Health, and principal investigator on the study.
 
The researchers note that the data gathered for this study from Facebook’s Ad Archive was collected in December 2018 and February 2019, before Facebook’s March 2019 announcement of updated advertising policies designed to limit the spread of vaccine-related misinformation. This study provides a baseline to compare how new policy changes may change the reach of ads from anti-vaccine organizations. Those standards, issued in response to the proliferation of anti-vaccination misinformation that coincided with measles outbreaks across the U.S.in early 2019, include that Facebook will block advertisements that include false content about vaccines and disallow advertisers from targeting ads to people “interested in vaccine controversies,” as they were previously able to do. 
 
Yet, the messengers may simply mutate their messages, virus-like, to avoid the tightening standards. “There is a whole set of ads that focus on themes of freedom’ or ‘choice’ and that elude the Facebook rules around vaccine ads,” Broniatowski said.  
 
Jamison says that the research team will continue to study how anti-vaccine arguments are spreading on Facebook and how the company is responding to demands from public health organizations to clean up its act.

“While everyone knows that Facebook can be used to spread misinformation, few people realize the control that advertisers have to target their message,” said Mark Dredze, a John C. Malone associate professor of computer science at Johns Hopkins. “For a few thousand dollars, a small number of anti-vaccine groups can micro-target their message, exploiting vulnerabilities in the health of the public.” 

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New Artificial Intelligence System Automatically Evolves to Evade Internet Censorship

November 14, 2019
Contacts: 

Kimbra Cutlip kcutlip@umd.edu 301-405-9463

Internet censorship by authoritarian governments prohibits free and open access to information for millions of people around the world. Attempts to evade such censorship have turned into a continually escalating race to keep up with ever-changing, increasingly sophisticated internet censorship. Censoring regimes have had the advantage in that race, because researchers must manually search for ways to circumvent censorship, a process that takes considerable time.

New work led by University of Maryland computer scientists could shift the balance of the censorship race. The researchers developed a tool called Geneva (short for Genetic Evasion), which automatically learns how to circumvent censorship. Tested in China, India and Kazakhstan, Geneva found dozens of ways to circumvent censorship by exploiting gaps in censors' logic and finding bugs that the researchers say would have been virtually impossible for humans to find manually.

The researchers will introduce Geneva during a peer-reviewed talk at the Association for Computing Machinery's 26th Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London on November 14, 2019.

"With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race," said Dave Levin, an assistant professor of computer science at UMD and senior author of the paper. "Geneva represents the first step toward a whole new arms race in which artificial intelligence systems of censors and evaders compete with one another. Ultimately, winning this race means bringing free speech and open communication to millions of users around the world who currently don't have them."

All information on the internet is broken into data packets by the sender's computer and reassembled by the receiving computer. One prevalent form of internet censorship used by authoritarian regimes works by monitoring the data packets sent during an internet search. The censor blocks requests that either contain flagged keywords (such as "Tiananmen Square" in China) or prohibited domain names (such as "Wikipedia" in many countries).

When Geneva is running on a computer that is sending out web requests through a censor, Geneva modifies how data is broken up and sent, so that the censor does not recognize forbidden content or is unable to censor the connection.

Known as a genetic algorithm, Geneva is a biologically inspired type of artificial intelligence that Levin and his team developed to work in the background as a user browses the web from a standard internet browser. Like biological systems, Geneva forms sets of instructions from genetic building blocks. But rather than using DNA as building blocks, Geneva uses small pieces of code. Individually, the bits of code do very little, but when composed into instructions, they can perform sophisticated evasion strategies for breaking up, arranging or sending data packets.

Geneva evolves its genetic code through successive attempts (or generations). With each generation, Geneva keeps the instructions that work best at evading censorship and kicks out the rest. Geneva mutates and crossbreeds its strategies by randomly removing instructions, adding new instructions, or combining successful instructions and testing the strategy again. Through this evolutionary process, Geneva is able to identify multiple evasion strategies very quickly. 

"This completely inverts how researchers typically approach the problem of censorship," said Levin, who holds a joint appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. "Ordinarily we identify how a censorship strategy works and then devise strategies to evade it. But now we let Geneva figure out how to evade the censor, and then we learn what censorship strategies are being used by seeing how Geneva defeated them."

The team tested Geneva in the laboratory against mock censors and in the real world against real censors. In the lab, the researchers developed censors that functioned like those known from previous research to be deployed by autocratic regimes. Within days, Geneva identified virtually all the packet-manipulation strategies that had been discovered by previously published work.

To demonstrate that Geneva worked in the real world against undiscovered censorship strategies, the team ran Geneva on a computer in China with an unmodified Google Chrome browser installed. By deploying strategies identified by Geneva, the user was able to browse free of keyword censorship. The researchers also successfully evaded censorship in India, which blocks forbidden URLs, and Kazakhstan, which was eavesdropping on certain social media sites at the time. In all cases, Geneva successfully circumvented censorship.

"Currently, the evade-detect cycle requires extensive manual measurement, reverse engineering and creativity to develop new means of censorship evasion," said Kevin Bock (B.S. '17, M.S. '18, computer science), a computer science Ph.D. student at UMD and lead author of the paper. "With this research, Geneva represents an important first step in automating censorship evasion."

The researchers plan to release their data and code in the hopes that it will provide open access to information in countries where the internet is restricted. The team acknowledges that there may be many reasons why individuals living under autocratic regimes might not want or be able to install the tool on their computers. However, they remain undeterred. The researchers are exploring the possibility of deploying Geneva on the computer supplying the blocked content (known as the server) rather than on the computer searching for blocked content (known as the client). That would mean websites such as Wikipedia or the BBC could be available to anyone inside countries that currently block them, such as China and Iran, without requiring the users to configure anything on their computer.

"If Geneva can be deployed on the server side and work as well as it does on the client side, then it could potentially open up communications for millions of people," Levin said. "That's an amazing possibility, and it's a direction we're pursuing."

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In addition to Levin, Bock and George Hughey (B.S. '19, computer science) at UMD, Xiao Qiang of UC Berkeley also co-authored the paper. Seven UMD undergraduate students worked on this project as part of Levin's Breakerspace lab in the UMD Department of Computer Science.

The paper "Geneva: Evolving Censorship Evasion Strategies," Kevin Bock, George Hughey, Xiao Qian and Dave Levin will be presented at the 26th Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Computer and Communications Security in London, England, on November 14, 2019.

University Statement on USM Independent Review Released Today

November 13, 2019
Contacts: 

Natifia Mullings mullings@umd.edu 301.405.4076

The University of Maryland offers its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Olivia Paregol as we near the anniversary of her tragic passing. The University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents released today its report on the University of Maryland’s (UMD) handling of adenovirus and mold last fall. 

 

UMD will carefully review the recommendations as part of a continuing effort to evaluate current policies and practices.  In response to recommendations that encourage a more coordinated response to future emergencies, UMD is currently studying ways to implement trainings that build upon existing tabletop exercises and reviewing the role of the safety committees now in place. 

 

The panel unanimously found that university employees worked tirelessly and that student health and safety were paramount in our decision making. This reflects our values as an institution.

UMD Ranked in Top 10 for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Education for Fifth Straight Year

November 12, 2019
Contacts: 

Dean Chang,  301-314-8121

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Maryland earned a Top 10 ranking in the Princeton Review’s annual survey of the Top Schools for Entrepreneurship. In the 2020 rankings released today and featured in the December issue of Entrepreneur magazine, UMD came in at No. 7 for undergraduate entrepreneurship education overall and No. 3 among all public universities. This marks the eighth consecutive year that UMD has been named a Top 25 program for entrepreneurship studies. 

 

The recent string of Top 10 rankings coincides with UMD’s campuswide initiative aiming to engage all 40,000 students in innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E). This collaboration is spearheaded by the Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and engages all 12 schools and colleges as well as key partners like undergraduate studies, student organizations, economic development and social innovation.

 

In 2018–19, 7,422 undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one entrepreneurship course at UMD. Nearly half of that group took a schedule-friendly, online entrepreneurship course that taught them about starting new ventures while also satisfying a general education requirement. Beyond traditional entrepreneurship, UMD also offers over 100 courses in areas related to innovation like creativity, entrepreneurial mindset, social value creation and design thinking. Altogether, 16,760 undergraduate and graduate students took at least one of these innovation and entrepreneurship courses last year. 

 

The Princeton Review tallied its rankings for top entrepreneurship programs based on a survey conducted from June through August 2019 of more than 300 schools about their entrepreneurship offerings. While most entrepreneurship rankings include only UMD’s extensive business or engineering entrepreneurship programs, the Princeton Review additionally reflects UMD’s unique efforts to include its entire student population. 

 

The survey methodology looked at each school’s commitment to entrepreneurship education inside and outside the classroom. Among the many criteria were the percentage of faculty, students and alumni actively and successfully involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, the number and reach of mentorship programs, and funding for scholarships and grants for entrepreneurial studies and projects.  

 

For more information on the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur’s rankings, visit www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings/top-entrepreneur. To learn more about innovation and entrepreneurship at UMD, visit innovation.umd.edu.

 

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Artist representation of UMD’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and activities from the Innovate Maryland celebration on April 11, 2019.

UMD Celebrates and Honors Veterans on Nov. 11 and all Month

November 11, 2019
Contacts: 

Hafsa Siddiqi hafsa@umd.edu 301-405-4671

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland works year-round to support, honor, celebrate and remember our nation’s Veterans, particularly UMD’s large community of faculty, staff, student and alumni Veterans. The campus community does so with extra emphasis and attention during a host of events this month to honor Veterans.

 

The month’s most prominent event is UMD’s Veterans Day Service and Lunch at the university's beautiful Memorial Chapel on on Monday, November 11 with services beginning at noon. The University of Maryland community will come together to honor and remember veterans through an exceptional program of music and spoken word. 

 

Remarks will be offered by two Veterans with extensive ties to the UMD community. Col. Jack Baker (ret. U.S. Air Force) has more than 50 years of facilities and operations experience including 20 years in the Air Force and 27 years with UMD, where he is Director of Facilities Operations and Maintenance. Sara Olsen completed nine years of active duty and currently serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves. She is a Ph.D student in the School of Public Health, and is one of the founders of the Crossroads Adaptive Athletic Alliance—a nonprofit designed to increase inclusive fitness for all people with disability. All attendees, including Veterans and their co-workers and families, are invited to be our guests at a buffet lunch in the Memorial Chapel Garden of Reflection and Remembrance. During lunch, attendees are invited to walk the Garden Labyrinth in honor of a Veteran past or present.  

 

A Vigil in honor of Veterans who have died in service to our country will be conducted from noon to 3 p.m. at the front of the Memorial Chapel by UMD Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC detachments. 

 

Among the many other November 2019 UMD events focused on veterans and active duty military are the following. 

 

  • “The Weight of Honor” Screening & Panel Discussion on November 13 at 6 pm, is a screening of the first comprehensive documentary to chronicle the lives of families caring for their catastrophically wounded returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring the film's director, Stephanie Seldon Howard, and Timothy Brown, President of Georgetown University's Student Veteran Association and U.S. Marine Corps Veteran.
  • UMD’s Military Appreciation Football Game and pregame reception is on Nov. 23, when the Terps take on Nebraska and honor veteran and active duty military personnel  with special recognitions throughout the game, including an Armed Forces Salute performed at halftime by the Mighty Sound of Maryland. Game time still to be announced. 
  • Artists Of Conscience: Veterans, Art & Wellness on Nov. 14 at 7 pm is a discussion at theThe Phillips Collection about the impact that art and art therapies can have on the lives of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic-brain injury (TBI), and other combat-related psychological health conditions.

For more information about UMD’s Veterans events or the Terp Vets student organization contact: Veteran Student Life301-314-0073, David Reese, Coordinator, dmreese@umd.edu.

‘Code Red,’ Howard Center’s Inaugural Project, Wins Top Professional Award For Innovative Storytelling

November 8, 2019
Contacts: 

Josh Land joshland@umd.edu 301-405-1321

COLLEGE PARK, Md The University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism and NPR were named the 2019 recipients of the National Press Foundation’s Innovative Storytelling Award on Wednesday for the first project by the new Howard Center for Investigative Journalism, “Code Red: Baltimore’s Climate Divide.” 

The multimedia project explored the effects of rising temperatures on the health and lives of the residents of “urban heat islands” in Baltimore. It premiered in September on Merrill College’s Capital News Service, NPR, Baltimore’s WMAR-TV and the Associated Press.

“ ‘Code Red’ put the future of journalism on display, with its data visualizations, motion graphics and sensor technology, illustrating how young journalists can use new techniques and methods to serve communities,” Dean Lucy Dalglish said.

The NPF judges cited those methods in their decision.

“The student journalists involved with this project literally built new tools — hardware to collect hard data — that tracked temperatures over time to get a sense of the stultifying impact of summer in the city,” the NPF judges said. “The brilliance of their innovation may offer early tea leaves of how innovation will drive the future of newsrooms. The ‘Code Red’ project, done in collaboration with NPR, also gave readers a peek behind the scenes to see how journalism works.”

“Code Red” brought together professional reporters and students in the Merrill College with experts from across the University of Maryland. Baltimore-based Wide Angle Youth Media’s students also contributed by writing blog posts, working as photojournalists and helping build the sensors used in the project. 

Led by Howard Center Director Kathy Best and Capital News Service Managing Director Marty Kaiser, the months-long investigation examined the impact of excessive heat on the lives and health of residents of urban heat islands, who are generally poor and racial minorities. The findings were presented in stories, photos, graphics, videos and interactives.

"We are beyond thrilled with this recognition for the inaugural project of the Howard Center,” Best and Kaiser said in a joint statement. “It defined the power of collaboration — with UMD's student-powered Capital News Service, with nationwide media partner NPR, with Wide Angle Youth Media's creative students, with experts in the Schools of Engineering and Public Health at UMD, and with our incredibly talented faculty and students, who built the trust on the streets of Baltimore that made our innovative storytelling possible. 

“We hope this project illuminated for readers the disproportionate toll the climate crisis already is taking, giving them more informed voices for future public policy debates.”

Howard Center data editor Sean Mussenden and assistant professor Krishnan Vasudevan taught students and members of the community to build low-cost sensors to gather temperature and humidity data from inside Baltimore homes, inspired by a project done in New York.

“The project produced startling data that the ‘Code Red’ team used as the foundation to tell an important story about heat, inequality and the climate crisis,” Mussenden said.

Through an additional $50,000 grant from ONA, Merrill College will share its “Code Red” sensor technology as well as its data and reporting methodology at no cost with news organizations or community groups throughout the country that want to explore the impact the climate crisis is having in their backyards.

NPR produced stories based on the partnership that aired on “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.” 

“We’re particularly proud of the way our team and the Howard Center’s journalists worked together to produce something so engaging and important,” NPR senior investigations editor Robert Little said. “Collaborations like this are key to NPR’s strategy to serve its audience, and we’re excited to do more.”

The AP distributed the project nationwide; stories appeared on more than 700 national and regional news websites, including The Washington Post and ABC News

The Baltimore Sun also published the full project.

“Code Red” was supported by the Scripps Howard Foundation and grants from the Park Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Online News Association’s Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education.

“All of us at the Scripps Howard Foundation and The E.W. Scripps Company are proud of the important work being done at the Howard Center,” Scripps Howard Foundation CEO/President Liz Carter said. “ ‘Code Red’ exemplifies the kind of innovative reporting that legendary newsman and Howard Center namesake Roy W. Howard championed.”

The award will be presented at the NPF’s annual journalism awards dinner Feb. 13 at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Washington. The winner will also present at an educational event to explain and share the innovation behind the work.

This year marked the first since NPF merged its Innovative Storytelling Award with its Technology in Journalism Award. The Washington Post had won the previous three Innovative Storytelling awards, as well as the 2016 Technology in Journalism Award.

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Adulthood Milestones are Shifting and Charitable Behaviors Are Declining

November 7, 2019
Contacts: 

Kaitlin Ahmad, kaitlin@umd.edu (301) 405-6360  

Shifts in reaching, choosing, and acting on milestones that traditionally mark the transition to adulthood may help explain why charitable behaviors in the United States have declined even as more young adults exhibit a historically high interest in engaging in their community and are better educated, according to a new research brief released by The Do Good Institute. The report, Shifting Milestones, Fewer Donors and Volunteers, is available online at go.umd.edu/milestones.

Cumulatively, Shifting Milestones reviewed five traditional adulthood milestones: completing formal education, getting a job, marrying, becoming a parent, and living independently. Education attainment trends illustrates the important societal shifts explored. Roughly two-thirds of young adults (age 22 to 35) are or have pursued higher education today and educational attainment is more strongly associated with the likelihood of volunteering than any other demographic characteristic and is also strongly associated with the likelihood of charitable giving. However, as more young adults earn a college degree (from 28 percent in 2005 to 34 percent in 2015), the authors surprisingly finds a steady decline in volunteer rates among young adult college graduates from a high of 38.0 percent in 2003 to 31.2 percent in 2015 while giving declined from a high of 59.8 percent in 2011 to 55.7 percent in 2015.

“Young adults frequently need to gain experience and build strong community ties – through activities like owning a home, having children, and working full-time – before they become actively engaged contributors to civic activities,” said Nathan Dietz, Senior Researcher, Do Good Institute. “They also need awareness of opportunities and encouragement to participate in philanthropic activities – this is where the business community, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions and even the government must play an active role to help turn around these downward trends.”

Among the report’s key findings are:

  • Young adult volunteering hit a high of 25.6 percent (2003) after the terrorist attacks on September 11 before displaying a substantial and long decline to a rate of 21.6 percent in 2015. If the volunteer rate had stayed at its 2003 levels, for example, an additional 2.42 million young adults would have volunteered in 2015.

 

  • Paid work helps strengthen social networks along with economic well-being and is strongly associated with volunteering and giving. The percent of young adults who were employed full-time actually decreased from 67.2 percent in 2005 to 63.4 percent in 2015, and the percent of young adults who are not in the labor force (not employed, but also not looking for work) has increased from 16.9 percent to 19.5 percent between 2005 and 2015. For young adults who are employed full-time, the volunteer rate has declined from 24.1 percent in 2005 to 22.0 percent in 2015, and the volunteer rate for young adults not in the labor force has declined from 22.3 percent in 2005 to 18.6 percent in 2015.

 

  • Marriage is strongly associated with volunteering and giving because it builds household wealth and socioeconomic status. As marriage rates continue to dive (from 45 percent in 2005 to 38 percent in 2015), so does the volunteer rate among married individuals.

 

  • Declining birthrates have important implications for philanthropy. Parenthood often introduces individuals to more civic invitations and opportunities. Shifting Milestones found that volunteer and giving rates today remain much higher for young adults who are parents (24.0 percent for volunteering and 46.8 percent for giving in 2015) than they are for non-parents (20.1 percent and 37.1 percent in 2015).

 

  • Young adults who live independently are much more likely to volunteer (25.4 percent versus 14.8 percent) and give to charity (43.1 percent versus 22.2 percent) than those living in someone else’s household. Between 2009 and 2015, the percentage of young adults who live independently declined (from 67.4 percent to 64.5 percent) as did volunteer rates among this group (from 27.1 percent to 25.4 percent).

 

  • Homeownership historically helps people build strong, lasting ties to one’s community. In 2015, among young adults living independently, homeowners were significantly more likely to volunteer (30.5 percent) and to give to charity (58.0 percent) than young adults who were responsible for paying the rent (21.2 percent volunteering, 39.8 percent giving). However, the homeownership rate for young adults living independently (42.0 percent) in 2015 was significantly lower than it was in 2009 (49.1 percent), and the percentage of independent-living young adults who chose to rent increased significantly, from 49.5 percent in 2009 to 56.1 percent in 2015.

 

“American life in the twenty-first century is changing in ways that often leave individuals less likely to give or volunteer,” said Robert T. Grimm, Levenson Family Chair in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and Do Good Institute Director. “While this signals a serious challenge for communities that benefit from volunteers and donors, these declining trends also impact our ability to construct ties, build relationships and develop bonds of trust, which can leave people feeling isolated, distrustful and in poorer physical and mental health.”

Shifting Milestones uses data featured in recent U.S. Census Bureau research and data collected from the Current Population Survey (CPS) Supplement on Volunteering (Volunteer Supplement). Between 2002 and 2015, the CPS Volunteer Supplement collected national statistics on volunteering through or for an organization. In 2008, the Supplement also began to collect data on giving to charity.

For more information or to download the report, visit go.umd.edu/milestones. To access the Appendix, click here.

 

UMD Celebrates Homecoming with Fireworks at Terp Carnival 2019

October 31, 2019
Contacts: 

Tiffany Blossom, tblossom@umd.edu 301-405-4535

 

 

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - On Friday, November 1 from 4 – 8 p.m., the University of Maryland will host its annual Terp Carnival on McKeldin Mall, offering games, prizes, entertainment, and food for students, alumni, families and community members.

 

The evening’s festivities will cap off with a beloved university tradition - a spectacular fireworks display over McKeldin Mall. UMD welcomes all guests to enjoy the show and to be advised of increased noise levels during the event. 

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About the University of Maryland

The University of Maryland, College Park is the state's flagship university and one of the nation's preeminent public research universities. A global leader in research, entrepreneurship and innovation, the university is home to more than 40,000 students, 10,000 faculty and staff, and 280 academic programs. As one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars, its faculty includes two Nobel laureates, three Pulitzer Prize winners and 57 members of the national academies. The institution has a $1.9 billion operating budget and secures $514 million annually in external research funding. For more information about the University of Maryland, College Park, visit www.umd.edu.

 

NIH Grants $3.4m to UMD to Study Effects of Foster Care

October 31, 2019
Contacts: 

Audrey Hill audreyh@umd.edu 301-405-3468

A $3.4 million grant award from the National Institutes of Health will support University of Maryland College of Education research assessing how foster care in early childhood influences children previously institutionalized as adults.

The study, led by Distinguished University Professor Nathan A. Fox, extends his long-term project following previously institutionalized children in Romania to compare outcomes between foster care and state-run institutions. It will evaluate whether the benefits of foster care—which alleviates some of the negative effects of early childhood adversity on cognitive, emotional and neurobiological processes—have continued into their adulthood.

“This project is important in terms of understanding the effects of adversity on long-term mental health and brain outcomes,” said Fox, of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology.

The award from the National Institute of Mental Health will provide five years of funding to support Fox’s ongoing research in Romania, which from the mid-1960s until 1990 under the rule of Nicolai Ceascescu had harsh policies outlawing abortion and contraception, and penalizing families for not having a large number of children. The policies resulted in significant child abandonment and extremely poor conditions in state-run institutions.

Fox first became involved in Romania around 1999, when the country banned international adoption. With the backing of the Romanian government, he started the Bucharest Early Intervention Project, which followed institutionalized children who were or were not placed—through a randomized control trial—in high-quality foster care. The Bucharest Early Intervention Project’s other co-leaders are Harvard Medical School’s Charles A. Nelson III, and Dr. Charles H. Zeanah Jr., of Tulane University School of Medicine.

The children ranged in age from 6-31 months when they entered foster care, and initial follow-up assessments were completed at 30, 42 and 54 months, with subsequent checkups at 8 ,12 and 16 years old. Among the project’s important findings so far: Foster care is critical in remediating many, but not all, of the detrimental effects of institutionalization. Additionally, the earlier foster care is received, the better the health and developmental outcomes for formerly institutionalized children.

“The timing matters,” Fox said. “So that the earlier the child is taken out, particularly before the age of 2 the more likely that remediation is to take place.” The NIH grant will facilitate study of the children at age 21 to determine if the positive influence of foster care has held up in adulthood. The project, ongoing for 20 years,[1]  originally included 136 children, and Fox has maintained contact with 120 of them, most of whom still reside in Romania.

“What we want to know is whether or not the effects of our early intervention persist as these kids leave the institutions and go off to start families of their own,” Fox said. “So now that these 21-year-olds are adults, how’re they adapting to life outside the institution?”

Fox will use behavioral data amassed over the course of the project as well as neuroimaging technology to evaluate measures of cognitive, social and emotional functioning. Other studies of early childhood adversity have yet to examine these factors over such a long period of time, Fox said. 

“There are about 8 million infants and children who are now living in institutions around the world,” Fox said. “The study not only has policy implications for the United States, but also policy implications around the world.”

 

 

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