Mission: MERIT educates and empowers students from underrepresented backgrounds to become health professionals and change agents who advance equity.
Vision: Tomorrow's health workforce will reflect the diversity of the communities it serves.
Our Story

The Inspiration

In 2010, MERIT founder Tyler Mains was a biology teacher at Baltimore’s Carver Vocational Technical High School, where he taught two students who would have a profound effect on his vision for health care in Baltimore.


Breonna suffered from uncontrolled diabetes, causing her to be hospitalized regularly and miss weeks of school at a time. She never met with a primary care physician, as there were none practicing in her neighborhood. Tyren dreamed of becoming a doctor and had one of the highest Biology High School Assessment (HSA) scores in the city, yet was still underprepared for the academic, social, and financial hurdles it would take to achieve his dream. 


With Tyren and Breonna in mind, Tyler entered the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine with the goal of creating an organization to empower students like Tyren to become doctors who treat patients like Breonna.

MERIT's Founding


Tyler joined with co-founders Shyam Gadwal and Mark Wilcox and set out to create an organization to empower the next generation of diverse health care professionals.  In 2010, the Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens (MERIT) was born.


In the first years, MERIT was run by a group of dedicated volunteer educators and medical professionals who spent nights and weekends tutoring scholars, holding weekend workshops, and connecting with local resources. News spread quickly, and the MERIT family grew. Soon, MERIT had developed a large group of committed partners and a track record of positive results.

MERIT's First Research Symposium in 2011

Our Growth & Future

Over the past eight years, MERIT has grown from a small volunteer group to a successful, innovative 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  In the 2018-2019 school year, MERIT expanded its program to provide support and opportunities for even more future doctors, nurses, and researchers in Baltimore. Our high school program grew this year to serve 94 scholars in two sites (the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and School of Nursing). We piloted our STEM Academy last year, which now serves 60 7th-8th grade scholars. MERIT also welcomed a talented and diverse new cohort of sophomore scholars.  After receiving more than 100 qualified applications, we accepted 35 new MERIT scholars, who represent our most socioeconomically and racially diverse class.  In total, MERIT supports over 250 scholars and alumni.

The future looks bright for MERIT.  We will continue to grow to impact more scholars, while maintaining our commitment to academic rigor and long-term supportive relationships. MERIT's goal to support more than 200 local scholars by 2020.  

MERIT will look for new opportunities to impact students throughout their academic careers. In the 2018-2019, MERIT will grow its alumni program to better support MERIT alums who are pursuing health care careers during and after their college experience.

As health care disparities persist, there has never been a better or more critical time for MERIT and a more diverse health care workforce. It will take all of us to prepare our scholars to become positive agents for change. Together, we can build a coalition of health care advocates able to tackle the complex problems facing our communities.

Together, we can change the face of health care

MERIT's Classes of 2017 and 2018

Our Core Values

We are champions for change and will not rest until we have created a diverse health care workforce that ensures everyone has access to high-quality health care.


We understand how our present actions directly lead to future consequences, not only for ourselves, but also for those around us.  As a result, we demonstrate ambition, determination, and a sense of urgency to achieve our goals.


We are a team working together for the greater good. We pick each other up on the toughest days and celebrate together on the best days.


Our relentless nature allows us to reach accomplishments others deem impossible. In order to become positive change agents in our communities, we must be exceptional leaders able to overcome any obstacles in our way.


We continuously seek opportunities to improve and humbly welcome critical feedback. We perceive setbacks as opportunities for learning rather than permanent failures.

Find out more about how the MERIT Health Leadership Academy is empowering the future health leaders of Baltimore:

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1 North Haven Street, Suite 4

Baltimore, MD 21224


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© 2019 By Medical Education Resources Initiative for Teens (MERIT), a 501(c)(3) organization.