The Mid-Shore Community Foundation, having just finished awarding over $635,000 in scholarships to 160 students this year, is already kicking off its 2019 program. Initially intended for high school students planning to attend two- or four-year colleges, the program has expanded to meet the growing needs of the community. Applications are being accepted from both current high school students and adults wishing to continue their education.
This year, over $100,000 went to students continuing their education at an institute of technology, vocational school, or career college that awards academic degrees or professional certifications. Recipients are now attending programs such as automotive technology, welding, aviation mechanics, radiology technology, and maritime training. The first recipient of the Brendan Davis Memorial Culinary Scholarship, new in 2018, is attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
Buck Duncan, President of MSCF, has always believed that not everyone has to go to a traditional four-year college to be successful. “Many students with no interest in college are pushed to go, and that creates the notion of failure as well as financial hardship. We need to develop individual talents through training and certification. We need a skilled workforce on the mid-shore: mechanics, plumbers, electricians, welders, radiology and lab techs, dental hygienists – the list goes on–who will become productive citizens supporting the economy of our region.We will put people to work doing things they love to do, and they will pay taxes, buy vehicles, use healthcare services, and send their kids to local schools.” Duncan has made it a priority of the Foundation to develop more of these types of scholarships.
Recipients of the two- and four-year college awards are also attending a wide variety of schools both within and outside of Maryland. Awards vary in size from one-time gifts of $500 to multi-year awards of up to $25,000. Some scholarships are renewable for multiple years but require students to reapply. Therefore, the Foundation is busy paying tuition bills for students with awards given not only in 2018, but back as far as 2014.
Scholarships are funded by a variety of generous donors who, with the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, are committed to helping local students from Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot County. They are awarded almost exclusively to students who demonstrate financial need. While some are open to all students, others are designated for students with interest in a particular subject or career path or from a specific county or even high school.
The Foundation administers the application, selection and award process for most of the available scholarships. These awards fall into the “pooled” scholarship program which allows students to apply for multiple scholarships by filling out one online application. Once the application window closes, community volunteers, from all 5 counties, read the applications and then meet in small groups to consider the pool of applicants for each scholarship and determine the recipient. Last year, 56 volunteers participated in making these decisions.
“It’s an amazing process,” said Megan Cook, MSCF Scholarship Program Coordinator. “Our readers come to these meetings prepared to discuss the applicants. There’s a sense of purpose to match the donor’s intentions to the best possible candidate. They consider grades, volunteer hours and extra curriculars but, most often, it comes down to the personal essay. There’s a sense of getting to know the candidate that comes from reading their words. The only disappointment is that there are so many more qualified candidates than scholarships.”
The good news is five new scholarships are being added to the pooled program this year. The Mary B. Lynch Scholarship is for a Caroline County Public School student pursuing a 4-year degree and the Jochheim Knotts Memorial Scholarship is for a graduate of St. Michaels High School. The Fellowes Trades and Workforce Scholarship is for a Talbot County resident continuing their education at a technology, vocational, trade or career college or for current employees of Talbot County businesses who wish to develop their skills through accredited seminars, courses or customized training. Two other Trades and Workforce scholarships, the Reade and Mary Corrand the Brooke & Trish Harwood, are for the same types of programs for residents of Kent County.
The Foundation also provides oversight and administers the payment for several scholarships whose application and selection processes are managed by external organizations or committees. Descriptions of these “donor involved” scholarships are available on the MSCF website, at mscf.org, along with contact information for applications.
Given the growth in both scholarships and applicants, the Foundation has elected to open the application window a full three months earlier to give students ample time to apply. The application is now available at MSCF.org along with a description of each award. Students must submit their applications by February 14, 2019 to be considered. Students are notified of their awards in late April and then honored at a Scholarship Award Breakfast in May. For additional information about the Mid-Shore Community Foundation’s scholarship program, contact Megan Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-820-8175 x 104.