by Patti Chang
The National Federation of the Blind scholarship program is the largest in the United States. Each year we award more than $120,000 in cash prizes. Our generous partners add to both cash awards and prizes.
We want to take this opportunity to recognize the partners who contribute to our scholarships and those who add cash and prizes to help make this the dynamic program that it is. Our young winners are living the lives they want, and we sincerely thank those who believe in the capacity of the blind. You help make dreams come true. Thank you so very much.
Many NFB scholarships are made possible in part through the support of the Jesse and Hertha Adams Charitable Trust. Through the trust, Jesse and Hertha Adams wanted to help people with disabilities lead productive and meaningful lives. Some scholarships are supported by the Lillian S. Edelstein Trust. All scholarships that are awarded to blind women and are not otherwise endowed are made possible by a generous bequest from the estate of Dorothy R. Olson.
Before we thank specific scholarship donors, we need to thank several partners who add cash and prizes to each of our winners’ packages. The Kurzweil Foundation and Ray Kurzweil add $1,000 to each recipient’s award. Ray Kurzweil is a long-time friend of the Federation and deserves our special recognition. Google adds another $1,000 to each winner’s scholarship. Our students receive a Chromebook from Google as well. Cary Supalo and Independence Science give a generous certificate toward the purchase of a Sci-Voice Talking LabQuest. From the Federation each student also receives a license for the KNFB Reader app, the leading app designed for low-vision and blind people giving access to print on-the-go.
As to our specific scholarships, we begin by expressing our gratitude to the collective membership of the NFB for funding many National Federation of the Blind Scholarships. These awards recognize and honor achievement by blind scholars.
We have one NFB Science and Engineering Division Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to a student studying in a STEM or related field. The science and engineering division is a group of blind students, professionals, and individuals committed to the success of the blind in the fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or a related field. The science and engineering division wishes to encourage the success of blind STEM students in their chosen field of study.
We thank Expedia for two awards. These scholarships are awarded to students studying in STEM fields or any other field of study relevant to Expedia’s business.
The E. U. and Gene Parker Scholarship honors two longtime leaders of the National Federation of the Blind whose participation stood for strong principles and strong support of the Federation's work.
We are also thankful for the $3,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarship. In funding this scholarship Charles wrote, “There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed toward attaining financial independence."
Thanks go to Betty Allen for funding the Charles and Betty Allen Scholarship. This scholarship is given by a longtime leader in the National Federation of the Blind of Kentucky. Betty and her late husband Charles began this scholarship prior to his passing to support young people in attaining higher education. Charlie, who was extremely successful, left school at an early age to care for his family, but he retained a strong belief in education.
Our Larry Streeter Memorial Scholarship is next. Federationist Larry Streeter worked tirelessly to ensure quality education for blind and disabled children inside and outside of the classroom. His wife Sandy and their daughters Erin and Jennifer, along with friends and colleagues, sponsor this scholarship to carry on Dr. Streeter’s promotion of higher education that will assist blind students to elevate their quality of life, equipping them to be active, productive participants in their family, community, and workplace.
Our next contributors remain anonymous. You know who you are, and we all thank you very much. The Adrienne Asch Memorial Scholarship is given in loving memory of Dr. Adrienne Asch, a consummate scholar and a longtime member of our scholarship committee.
We also have four $5,000 awards for which we are thankful. The Pearson award is funded by Pearson Education and is given to a student who plans a career in education. For Pearson, learning is a never-ending road of discovery.
The Mimi and Marvin Sandler award is funded by longtime friends of the Federation, Mr. and Mrs. Sandler. Marvin Sandler served as president of Independent Living Aids for more than thirty years. His wife and he wish to further academic excellence by sponsoring this award.
We have two $5,000 Charles and Melva T. Owen Memorial Scholarships. First established by Charles Owen in loving memory of his blind wife, these awards are now endowed by his last will and testament to honor the memory of both. In founding the scholarships, Charles Owen wrote: "There shall be no limitation as to field of study, except that it shall be directed toward attaining financial independence."
This year we have two $8,000 scholarships, both donated by Oracle. Thank you, Oracle. The first is the Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in Computer Science. Oracle seeks to hire the best and brightest talent to build its products. They recognize the significant impact that their products and technologies can have on people with disabilities. This scholarship is for a student in the field of computer science, computer engineering, user experience, or related field.
The second is the Oracle Scholarship for Excellence in a STEM Field. This scholarship awards academic excellence and leadership in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Oracle wishes to promote excellence and funds this scholarship based on Oracle’s understanding of its impact on disabled employees and customers throughout the globe.
Our $10,000 scholarship is the JAWS for Windows Scholarship. This scholarship is funded by the developers of the JAWS screen reader, part of VFO Group. The developers of JAWS (Job Access With Speech) have been committed to expanding the opportunities of both education and employment for the blind with both speech and Braille since the late 1980’s. In establishing this award VFO said, “On behalf of all the individuals responsible for the development and support of this product over the years, we are honored to establish this scholarship for students recognized by the Federation.”
Finally, we have our most prestigious award the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship for $12,000. This scholarship is given yearly by the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, a nonprofit organization that works to assist blind people and that creates Twin Vision publications and distributes them through the Kenneth Jernigan Library. Kenneth Jernigan is viewed by our field as the most important figure in the twentieth century in the lives of blind people. The Action Fund wishes to keep fresh and current in the twenty-first century the understandings he brought to the field and thus has endowed this scholarship dedicated to his memory and to the continuation of the work he began.
These scholarships award academic excellence and promote leadership in the blindness community. They are possible because of the contributions of many individuals and partners. We sincerely thank each and every one of you.