RIT Disability Leadership Scholars Program

RIT’s Disability Leadership Scholars Program aims to recruit a cohort of students who self-identify as members of the Disability and/or Deaf community, and who demonstrate strong leadership skills and commitment to equity and justice for the Disability community.

Students selected for this opportunity should be particularly invested in disability, equity, and social justice. Awards will be made to selected students after acceptance to RIT.  

Program Goals

  • Recruit promising prospective students who identify as Disabled, Deaf Plus, d/Deaf, or hard of hearing to join the RIT community 
  • Provide pre-college workshops to the cohort of students focused on: 
    • Awareness of resources and processes for pursuing accommodations and other supports in college 
    • Self-advocacy skill development
    • Development of an intentional peer community of RIT students who share a commitment to disability equity and empowerment 
  • Engagement in an ongoing mentorship with an RIT faculty/staff member throughout their first two years at RIT 
  • Ongoing leadership development experiences and opportunities  
  • Positively impact retention and graduation rates amongst Disabled, Deaf Plus, d/Deaf, and hard of hearing students 

Program Benefits

A one-time $10,000 scholarship to be used towards costs of RIT education

Pre-orientation resource education on student rights, resources, and supports on the RIT campus

A dedicated RIT faculty/staff mentor and established peer community 

Ongoing professional and leadership development opportunities


Students sitting outside in the grass on campus in a circle with face masks on, waving at the camera.

Who is Eligible?

Current high school seniors intending to enroll in college in the Fall who self-identify as Disabled, Deaf Plus, d/Deaf, or hard of hearing are eligible to apply before the application deadline. 

We understand disability as broad and as manifesting in a multitude of ways, whether lifelong or acquired, hidden or readily apparent. Those who identify with a physical disability, learning disability, mental health disability, chronic illness, Deaf or Deaf Plus identity and more are within the scope of this initiative. Of particular importance to us is a student’s understanding of Disability as an identity and not a deficit.

Application Process

Nominations should come directly from the interested student, due by the application deadline listed below. A select group of identified candidates will then be invited to interview virtually with RIT. Recipients will be notified and students selected for the program must commit to participating by the date indicated below. 

Students with any accessibility needs or questions related to the application process may contact the RIT Disability Services Office at dso@rit.edu or 585-475-2023.

Application Timeline

2024-2025 Academic Year

April 5
(11:59 p.m. EDT)
Deadline for student self-nominations
Mid-April Finalists to interview with RIT via Zoom 
April 24 Decisions released to all applicants 
May 1 Deadline for selected students to commit to the Disability Leadership Scholars Program (including participation in DLS pre-orientation)
August 16 DLSP students move onto campus and begin pre-orientation 
August 16-18 Mandatory pre-orientation program for Disability Leadership Scholars (early RIT Housing move-in will be arranged for participating students)

Non-discrimination Statement: The RIT community is committed to a diverse, inclusive and dynamic learning, working and living environment.  RIT does not discriminate.  Disclosures regarding disability status will be kept independent of a student’s admission review, unless disclosed directly with the Admissions Office.  Only students offered admission to RIT will be considered for the RIT / Microsoft Scholarship opportunity.