Fund for the Blind, Inc.

Brother James Kearney
Scholarship For The Blind


SECTION 1:  The program’s purpose.  The Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind (formerly, the Lavelle Fund College Scholarship Program) aims to help make quality undergraduate and graduate education affordable for Tri-State New York area residents who are legally blind and financially needy.  Toward this end, the Lavelle Fund for the Blind (the Fund) is awarding scholarship grants to selected colleges in the New York City area.  The program is currently authorized to admit new students through June 30, 2014.

SECTION 2:  Program eligibility.   To be eligible, students must be:

  • A resident of the state of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut – with “resident” being defined as a person:  (a) whose principal, permanent home address is in that state and (b) who receives any state commission for the blind support from the same home state.  In addition, Pennsylvania residents who are graduates of either of two Philadelphia schools for the blind (Overbrook School for the Blind or St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments) also meet the program’s residency requirement. 
  • Either 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.  After a participating college confirms that a non-legally blind Brother James Kearney Scholarship applicant meets the program’s residency and financial need requirements, the applicant should contact Rona Shaw, Ed.D., ( to schedule a free functional vision assessment.
  • Financially needy, as defined by the student’s college.  Colleges will use data from students’ FAFSA form to make the financial need calculations outlined below.
  • Studying at one of 11 participating colleges and universities in the New York City area.  These institutions are:  Canisius College, Dominican College, Fordham University, Le Moyne College, Manhattanville College, Molloy College, Marist College, Marymount Manhattan College, St. John’s University, St. Thomas Aquinas College, and Seton Hall University.  At two universities (Fordham and St. John’s), the program is open only to graduate students.  At the other institutions, the program is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.  Students must be studying full-time and in good standing (not suspended or on probation).

SECTION 3:  How to apply.  After completing the federal FASFA form and their college’s own financial aid application form, students should contact their colleges’ financial aid offices for more information.

SECTION 4:  Determining the Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind 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 Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind amount based on the following calculation:

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 PLUS (2) the FAMILY’S APPROPRIATE 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 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 Brother James 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. 

SECTION 5:  Paying the scholarships.  Each semester, the Fund will pay the needed scholarship dollars directly to the participating colleges.  The colleges will then ensure that the funds are used exclusively for the agreed student support purposes.  The Fund will continue to provide last-dollar-of-need scholarship support for up to four years, as long as the students continue to meet the program’s eligibility requirements.

SECTION 6:  Participating colleges’ roles in co-administering the program and supporting their respective Brother James Kearney Scholars.  Participating colleges help support the program and their Brother James Kearney Scholars in several ways:

  • Publicizing the Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind (in college catalogues, web sites, etc.), recruiting eligible students, and identifying incumbent (currently enrolled) students who are eligible to participate.  Students may be admitted to the program anytime from now through June 30, 2014.  Once admitted, Brother James Kearney Scholars who remain eligible scholarship recipients in good academic standing will continue to be eligible for up to four years of Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind support regardless of the end date of that support.
  • Counseling Brother James Kearney Scholars about seeking non-Lavelle scholarship aid for which they are eligible and calculating how much the students’ families can afford to pay without borrowing.
  • Determining the students’ last-dollar of need for Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind support.
  • Helping their Brother James Kearney Scholars obtain the campus accommodations, support services, and adaptive equipment that they need to succeed in college.  In many cases, needed services will actually come from outside the college – for example, from the students’ home state commissions for the blind.
  • Reporting annually to the Lavelle Fund about these scholarship students’ progress in college.

For its part, the Fund will honor the scholarship aid commitments just outlined, up to the stated maximum amounts per college.  Should the financial need of actual and potential Brother James Kearney Scholars ever exceed this maximum, the colleges should inform the Fund and then be prepared to determine which students receive support by rank-ordering the students based mainly on degree of financial need.

SECTION 7:  Additional information.  Should you have questions about the program, please contact:

  • Linda Mamrosh, coordinator of the Brother James Kearney Scholarship for the Blind (  Ms. Mamrosh is usually available in the Lavelle Fund’s office on Tuesdays.  The office phone number is 212-668-9801.

In Linda’s absence, other Lavelle staff will be happy to help.