Programs and Services
The link between enabling residents access to a better education and providing resident businesses access to a better workforce is crucial for our region to thrive. DEF programs and services will continue to assist and support the people of our communities, businesses, and schools so that the value and importance of education in our region will grow and all will benefit.
Financial Aid Clearinghouse and DEF-College Access Program
The Financial Aid Clearinghouse provides information on financial aid resources and local scholarship opportunities. DEF staff and volunteers are continually updating and compiling data on local scholarships, where local students have a priority as opposed to national scholarships where one competes with students all over the country. Our online, searchable database of local scholarships is for students of all ages. In the "Financial Aid" section of this website you can "Find A Scholarship" using our scholarship database and also use the links to "Federal and State Resources" for financial aid. This project began thanks to grant monies from the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance and our partnership with the Wicomico Public Library.
DEF-CAP, the DEF College Access Program aims to boost the college-going potential and career preparation of young people on the lower Delmarva Peninsula. This program, which began in 2006, provides information and one-on-one assistance to local students, primarily by providing services directly in our region's schools. Funding has been through grants from the Rural Maryland Council (RMC) Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund (MAERDAF), the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and by support from local educational institutions, businesses, and individuals. Since 2007, and through 2014, even more students have been helped by DEF-CAP advisors, in part thanks to our collaboration with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and grants from the Maryland Higher Education Commission.
DEF developed the DEF Delmarva Common Scholarship Application to facilitate the scholarship application process for local students and organizations. If you administer a scholarship for which local students would be eligible and you would like them to be able to use this application to apply for your scholarship please Contact Us.
Regional Education Information Center (REIC)
The Shirley B. Harting Regional Education Information Center (REIC) is complementary to our college/career access program. This online, searchable inventory about local programs that further education and/or skills for local residents is the newest addition to DEF services. With this resource, our aim is to be able to tell anyone where he or she can get the education and training in our region for most careers or jobs.
DEF can also provide general information about our local schools (private and public, academic and technical, pre-elementary to post-secondary), home schooling groups, libraries, tutoring services, GED classes and other resources that provide the opportunity to gain more knowledge or skills.
Educator Networking: a source of new ideas, a place to meet
DEF provides a forum for developing and sharing ideas that relate to improving educational opportunities for the region, particularly regarding access and quality.
Every other year, DEF hosts a Counselor's Roundtable and a Scholarship Sponsors Forum. Local high school counselors are invited to the Roundtable to share best practices and challenges, to learn from each other and speakers invited by DEF, how best to serve their students. The Scholarship Sponsors Forum, hosted by DEF the alternate year from the Roundtable, brings together representatives from local scholarship sponsoring organizations to network and share information. The Counselor's Roundtable has been held in the Fall of 2010 and 2012, with the next meeting planned for Fall 2014. The Scholarship Sponsors Forum was convened in 2011 and 2013. A discussion at the 2011 forum led to DEF hosting its first College Scholarship Fair in January 2012. The DEF Scholarship Fair has been held annually each January since, most recently on January 11, 2014.
DEF convened the High School Principals Network to bring together local public high school principals to share concerns, challenges, and best practices. The genesis of this important initiative took place in 2007, with a subsequent meeting in 2009.
DEF held a Financial Aid Forum in 2005 for area high school guidance counselors, college financial aid officers, and representatives from organizations that provide scholarships to local students to discuss ideas for streamlining the scholarship application process in general and to look at the pros and cons of a regional common scholarship application. The group looked at samples and offered suggestions for DEF to design the DEF Delmarva Common Scholarship Application and ways to promote awareness of such a resource to local scholarship sponsors for which it would be useful. DEF received grants in 2007 from the Rural Development Center at UMES, an EDA University Center, to initiate and follow through on this project.
DEF hosted a Rural Education Symposium in 2003 to bring together active members of the national rural education and policy research community with our regional educational leadership to share what is known about rural education policy and research across the United States. By following up in 2004 with a Forum on Place-Based Education, an instructional strategy with a background of proven success in rural areas similar to ours, we have kept our commitment to provide more information about this learning method and its potential benefits to our region. DEF will find passageways for exploring and sharing the special nature of our region with others and thus bring to our communities whatever benefits that research makes possible.