Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
John G. Paré Jr.
Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2218
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)

UPS Foundation Delivers Support for Blind Youth Outreach Program

$100,000 Grant Will Support Blind Students in Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland (January 22, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, a center of excellence run by the blind for the blind, announced today that the UPS Foundation will provide support for the Transition to Independence Project, which provides outreach services to transition-age youth who are blind or have low vision.

Since 2005, the project has worked to increase employment readiness, instill independence skills, and build the self-confidence of blind or low vision high school students in Maryland.  While the program emphasizes the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) industries, it also focuses on other career paths for blind youth by increasing their exposure to role models in a wide range of fields.  Students participate in a variety of challenging and rewarding activities throughout the duration of this comprehensive program and also receive the opportunity to interact with other blind youth and mentors.

“There is currently a 70 percent unemployment rate among blind persons in the United States. With the support of generous partners like the UPS Foundation, the Transition to Independence Project will be able to equip blind youth with the tools they need to make the important transition to employment and independence,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.

“Giving back to the communities is an important part of UPS’s culture that is embraced by our employees through volunteerism, making donations, and sharing their intellectual capital,” said Lisa Hamilton, president of the UPS Foundation.  “Together with nonprofit partners such as the National Federation of the Blind, we work to make a positive impact on the lives of people in need.”

On February 21, 2008, the program will be holding its third annual Transition to Independence Career Fair for blind and low vision students in grades 8-12.  Students will have the opportunity to meet with exhibitors from universities, trade schools, and businesses, as well as attend informative workshops.  For more information about the career fair, please contact Karen Zakhnini at (410) 659-9314, extension 2293, or via e-mail at

The Transition to Independence Project is a program of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute under the auspices of its National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) initiative, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services (DORS).