The Visually Impaired Scholarship Fund was started in 1983. A $50 surplus from the itinerant teachers’ social fund was awarded to a graduating senior at Crenshaw H.S. who was entering UCLA. Catharine Byrne, her itinerant teacher, is the founder of this group. Our original mission was to provide scholarships to deserving blind and visually impaired LAUSD graduates to help ease the financial burden of college. Full tax-exempt status was granted in 1988. We are a CALIFORNIA nonprofit organization, separate from LAUSD. In 2013, we changed our name to the Visually Impaired Scholarship Fund.
Over the years, our mission was expanded to give assistance to all visually impaired graduates who continue their education at a post-secondary training program. Ralph Salaway, a beloved educator and former supervisor of our program, bequeathed to the fund $20,000. In his memory, a special honor was begun; the top student would receive an award of $1,000 and a plaque as the highest achiever of the year. The first Salaway Award was given in 1992, to Juan Haro, a graduate of Birmingham H.S. Today, Juan Haro is a member of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. He is a Health Educator at the Alamogodo Adult Orientation Center.
We are very proud of the many VI Scholarship recipients who have gone on after high school to achieve great things. Some of our students have graduated from colleges such as: Stanford University, Marymount College, Oberlin College, Yale University, UCLA, USC, and many of the other UC and CSU schools throughout California.
Our students have pursued their professional dreams in various career fields including: law, education, computer programming, and even rocket science!
Many others have chosen to further their education in graduate programs ranging from education and social work to music and engineering. Still, others have chosen to give back to the Visually Impaired community through their work as teachers or volunteers.