The Program

For more than a decade, the Southern Management Leadership Program has served to develop local community leaders through a scholarship and intensive mentoring program at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College and the University of Maryland. The program was founded by Suzanne Hillman (President and CEO of Southern Management Companies) and the Hillman Family, as a way to enrich the education of students in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.

back of students' SMLP t-shirts

These communities are where Southern Management got its start more than 50 years ago, and where the company’s deep roots have stood firm ever since. The mission of the Southern Management Leadership Program is to develop strong leaders, who will use their educations and experiences to make positive and lasting impacts in their hometowns.

“We have long been committed to being good corporate citizens where we do business. What better way to give back to our local communities than developing impactful, creative and inspiring local leaders,” said Suzanne Hillman. “We have witnessed wonderful success with this program as our students have graduated and gone on to be positive influences in our communities, and we look forward to celebrating many more future accomplishments.”

The Southern Management Leadership Program benefits the students in many ways – providing financial, academic and professional assistance. Scholarships for Southern Management Leaders account for 55% of tuition at either Montgomery College or Prince George’s Community College and up to 50% tuition at the University of Maryland. The students are also eligible to receive additional funds for books and other required technology and benefit from one-on-one advising and mentoring from dedicated Program Directors at each of the three schools.

Perhaps the single most important benefit to students in this unique program is access to the Southern Management Leadership Program network. So many alumni of this program have gone on to found successful companies, take on important business roles and become key leaders in their communities. The ability to network with this ever-expanding group of talented alumni is an extremely important asset to students. Alignment with Southern Management Companies also provides access to the resources of a local, billion-dollar business with roughly 80 offices and more than 1,700 employees. Leveraging this relationship with Southern Management provides additional access to business professionals, various internship possibilities and valuable opportunities to develop professional relationships.

The Model

man with glasses and SMLP shirt smiling

The Southern Management Leadership Program offers a new model in education. Students who might not otherwise be able to afford a college education are now starting their college career at either Prince George’s Community College or Montgomery College and transferring to the University of Maryland to complete their degree in any major. They receive up to 2/3 tuition in scholarship funds. They also receive deep mentoring from full-time mentors at each institution. Students participate in community and team-building activities while taking classes in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Students transfer to Maryland in pursuit of their bachelor's degree where they continue to receive up to 2/3 of their tuition. With the expansion, up to 180 students will be receiving scholarships each year with 30 at each community college and up to 120 at the University of Maryland. The community college programs are second year programs with student selection occurring at the end of the first year to better determine potential for success. At Maryland the program is a junior/senior program.

This program is about training entrepreneurial leaders who will become the ethical leaders of tomorrow’s local economy.

Supporting Students

The Southern Management Leadership Program is designed to help students:

  • Develop the skills for identifying and analyzing entrepreneurial opportunities
  • Learn through a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship
  • Engage with mentors in the business community to help turn dreams into businesses
  • Graduate and become successful leaders who give back to their local communities

The program seeks to grow the leadership qualities of students who exhibit:

  • Interest in starting a business/social venture
  • Strong values with an interest in giving back
  • Confidence and capability during essay and interview assessments
  • Academic competence with the capability to succeed
  • Creativity through innovative thinking
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

SMLP students come from a wide variety of transferable majors, including engineering, math, information systems, accounting, business, psychology, education, art, and economics. Some are traditional, college-aged students, while others have had years of life experience and careers before joining the program. Some are raising families, while others are supporting parents who need them. Virtually all are working while going to school, and juggle many obligations, knowing that gaining a college education will help them build a better future for themselves and their families.

student in front row of auditorium raising hand


Have any questions? Reach out to someone on our team!

students sitting in an auditorium


Meet the dedicated individuals behind the program.

David Hillman and others

Our Founders

Learn about Suzanne and David Hillman, founders of Southern Management Leadership Program (formerly Hillman Program).