In 2014, the Fund approved a three-year grant of $180,000 to City Access New York (CANY), a nonprofit organization that promotes lifelong access to educational, vocational, and cultural programs for New York City residents with disabilities. The grant served to underwrite vocational education, career exploration, and orientation and mobility training for 12 NYC secondary school and college students who are blind and visually impaired through participation in at least 30 one-semester paid internships at any of 20-25 partner museums and cultural institutions in NYC. The project’s overall goal was to build career awareness, pre-vocational skills, and workplace experience for these students.
By grant’s end, CANY’s Career Discovery Project had created 66 internship placements for 36 visually impaired students, exceeding their target numbers by more than 200%. The effort provided all student participants with prevocational training, and the interns attested to experiencing personal growth, expanded skill sets, strengthened self-esteem, and a deepened sense of accomplishment and personal potential. Thanks to CANY’s work, a wide range of institutions are now committed to and actively interested in working supportively with interns who are blind or visually impaired—a rare occurrence in our society—to the tremendous benefit of these students and their families.