Scholarship Program


The Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship Program aims to help make quality undergraduate and graduate education affordable for U.S. residents who are legally blind, financially needy, and attending any of 12 selected private colleges in the Tri-State New York area. The program is currently authorized to admit new students through June 30, 2024.

Lavelle’s Scholarship Coordinator, Joan Dulitz, and a Lavelle-Brother Kearney scholar at his graduation from Seton Hall University Law School


To be eligible for consideration for The Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship Program, a student must be:

    • A legal resident of the United States.
    • Legally blind – or so severely visually impaired that a Lavelle-sponsored vision assessment expert confirms that the student would need special support services to succeed in college. Examples of such supports include: adaptive technology, books in alternate formats, help from volunteer readers, and/or orientation and mobility training. Otherwise-qualified students who are visually impaired but not “legally blind” should contact the Lavelle Fund’s office.
    • Financially needy, as defined by the student’s college. Colleges use data from students’ FAFSA form to make the financial need calculations outlined below.
    • Studying at one of 12 participating colleges and universities in the Tri-State New York area. These institutions are:
      • Canisius College
      • Dominican College
      • Fairfield University
      • Fordham University
      • Le Moyne College
      • Manhattanville College (note: candidates are eligible only after one successfully completed semester at Manhattanville College)
      • Marist College
      • Marymount Manhattan College
      • Molloy College
      • St. John’s University – graduate programs only
      • St. Thomas Aquinas College
      • Seton Hall University

Students must be studying full-time and in good standing (not suspended or on probation). To obtain the relevant contact data for each college, please visit the Participating Colleges and Departmental Contacts tab on The Lavelle Fund’s Participating Colleges and Contacts page.)

Program Benefits

Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholars receive additional support, including:

  • being mentored in Freshman year by a successful college graduate who is blind or visually impaired through Learning Ally’s College Success Program.
  • job readiness services, career related internships, and assistance with seeking post-college jobs. Services provided by VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in New York City.

How To Apply

Students must be accepted into a Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship college or university, complete the federal FAFSA form in addition to their college’s own financial aid application form, and seek sponsorship from their state’s Vocational Rehabilitation agency. Applicants should then contact Kate Morris, Scholarship Program Coordinator and complete The Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship Program’s mandatory Waiver/Release of Information Form authorizing the release of student education and employment data to the Lavelle Fund for the Blind.

Applicant Selection

The Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship is intended to assist legally blind students on an educational path that prepares them for employment. Through a comprehensive, in-depth vetting and interview process, the Lavelle Fund for the Blind annually selects students who demonstrate academic consistency and achievement, strong interpersonal skills (e.g., are able to self-advocate and work well with peers, teachers and school representatives), and are prepared with the mobility, technology, and independent living skills that will enable them to thrive in college.

A Waiver/Release of Information Form is required to enable Scholarship Program staff to obtain the following information at any point during the application process, the Scholar’s program of study and post-graduate subsequent transition into employment:

  • education data, such as grades, transcripts, and enrollment status from high school and all colleges attended
  • financial aid data in determination of Scholarship amount
  • assessment information from professionals who have interacted with the applicant including (but not limited to) Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors, teachers, Disability Services representatives, technology instructors, and orientation and mobility instructors
  • employment data, including details on internships held during undergraduate/graduate studies and jobs obtained up to 5 years after program completion.

Satisfactory academic progress toward an undergraduate degree is required for Scholarship renewal. In addition, each recipient is expected to provide feedback to The Lavelle Fund for the Blind regarding his or her progress as requested, as well as proactively report any problems or areas that require additional support. Accepted applicants must agree to the terms set forth in the Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship Agreement. The Lavelle Fund for the Blind reserves the right to adjust or revoke a scholarship award should student information change or the student fail to provide required information.

Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholars are expected to demonstrate professionalism both in-person and online. Scholars are encouraged to take advantage of networking and career development opportunities offered through the Lavelle-Brother Kearney Scholarship Program, their school, their state’s Vocational Rehabilitation Office and local service providers.

Determining the Lavelle - Brother Kearney Scholarship Amount

Scholarships are awarded on a last-dollar-of-need basis, at a rate of up to $15,000/student per academic year for up to four years.

In consultation with the Lavelle Fund, the participating colleges determine the appropriate Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship amount each semester, based on the calculation below. Please note that changes to the student’s financial profile may significantly alter the Scholarship amount from semester to semester.

TOTAL COLLEGE COST (defined to include tuition, fees, room and board, and books)

MINUS two things:

    1. NON-LAVELLE FINANCIAL AID from all public and private sources
    2. the EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION – that is, what the college determines the family can afford to pay without borrowing.

Non-Lavelle resources available to financially needy students may include: (a) the college’s own student aid funds, (b) federal Pell Grants, (c) in the case of New York State residents, NYS Tuition Assistance Program awards, and (d) aid from the students’ home state commissions for the blind. In the case of the New York State Commission for the Blind, for example, maximum annual award amounts have historically been approximately the same as the cost of a year’s tuition at a SUNY college – plus additional support for room and board, when applicable.

To be eligible for The Lavelle – Brother Kearney Scholarship support, students must first seek non-Lavelle support for which they may qualify. Since legally blind students who are registered with their home state commission for the blind usually qualify for some commission aid, the Fund does not honor scholarship vouchers that fail to indicate either: (1) how much the student’s home state commission has awarded the student or (2) the reason the commission denied such aid.

Paying for the Scholarship

Each semester, the Fund will pay the needed scholarship dollars directly to the participating colleges’ Financial Aid or Bursar’s offices. The colleges will then ensure that the funds are used exclusively for the agreed student support purposes.

Additional Information

Should you have questions about the Scholarship Program, please contact:

Kate Morris
Scholarship Program Coordinator (212) 668-9801, ext. 101
(generally on Mondays and Tuesdays)
[email protected]