The Roberta B. Holt Scholarship Fund at Mid-Shore Community Foundation (MSCF) celebrated its 10th anniversary this year by awarding $560,000 in scholarships to deserving Caroline County students. Over the last 10 years, the fund has awarded $2.8 million. The story behind the fund is about a successful woman from Caroline County who wanted her assets to be used toward bettering her fellow man – specifically supporting the educational endeavors of students in need of financial support to achieve their goals.
Roberta “Bobbie” Baxter Holt was a native of Federalsburg. She graduated from Federalsburg High School and then received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in social work at the University of Minnesota, and a doctorate in social work from the Catholic University of America. She was a research associate in the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behavior at the National Institutes of Mental Health and had a long successful career as a psychotherapist with a family-oriented practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She also served on the faculty of Georgetown University in what is now the Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. She lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
“She remained connected to her Federalsburg roots. She exemplified her personal philosophy of doing something productive every day to further yourself or humankind. She was determined to use her success and the assets of her estate to encourage others to do the same. Her brother, Haines Holt, established this extraordinary scholarship program to fulfill her commitment to education,” comments Buck Duncan, President of MSCF.
Education was something Bobbie valued. Haines states, “As the executor of her estate, I knew she wanted the funds to help people in Caroline County further their education.”
Although Bobbie never had children of her own, she influenced many children, including the life of one of her closest friends who shared her memories of Bobbie, stating, “She came from a small provincial town, went far, and yet remained humble . . . She was a supportive friend to young people. My daughter asked, ‘Did she have a glimmer of the impact she had on people?’”
Bobbie was exposed to the needs of the Caroline County community while working as a volunteer toward the end of her life with the Caroline County Department of Social Services. In setting up the scholarship fund at MSCF in honor of his sister, Haines engaged friends Clay Railey from Chesapeake College and Dale Brown, a principal in Caroline County, to help him find students who needed educational support. During the early years when the scholarship was awarded, students received funding toward one year of their college programs. Since then, students receive support for all four years if they are attending a four-year college. An additional change since the scholarship’s early days is that it supports students attending trade schools and provides scholarships for non-traditional students furthering their education.
“Trade schools and adults returning to get their education are growing numbers in the scholarships we award,” Haines adds.
“I know a lot of people think about the legacy they want to leave in their communities. Bobbie certainly did — this fund is changing lives generationally,” he concludes.
Mid-Shore Community Foundation awards scholarships to high school seniors in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties. In FY23, MSCF awarded 221 scholarships, totaling $1.7 Million. The majority of the Foundation’s scholarships, including the Roberta B. Holt Scholarship, are awarded through a Pooled Scholarship Application – students complete one online application and the Foundation matches them to all scholarships for which they meet eligibility. The 2023/24 Pooled Scholarship Application will open on December 1, 2023. To apply visit www.mscf.org.