In 2014, the Fund approved an 18-month grant of $303,560 to Learning Ally, the country’s largest provider of human-narrated recorded textbooks for college and university students who are blind, visually impaired, learning disabled, or otherwise print-disabled, to create a national program designed to help such students succeed in college. The College Success Program was to consist of two components: (1) a website presenting online resources and information to help students improve their learning, assistive technology, and self-advocacy skills, and (2) a mentorship program pairing students with mentors who themselves were successful college graduates with visual impairments. The goal was to help at least 500 program participants successfully pursue a college degree.
By grant’s end, the program had enrolled 502 participants, providing all with a supportive online curriculum and a website hosting community interaction and events. It also effectively paired student mentees with mentors experienced in navigating the academic and social challenges encountered in pursuing a college degree. The program’s online and mentor supports have strongly contributed to students’ performance in school and preparation for a satisfying and successful careers.