$600K donation awarded to NTID

Funds help students realize entrepreneurial spirit

RIT's National Institute of the Deaf receives grants from Johnson Scholarship Foundation, and the Federal Government

In a move that will help RIT with its reputation of being an innovation university, a Florida-based charity has donated $600,000 to create a scholarship for deaf and hard-of-hearing students eager to become entrepreneurs.

The Johnson Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational opportunities to disabled or disadvantaged students, has donated the money to form an endowed Scholarship for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Twelve students are expected to receive $5,000 a year in tuition assistance.

The donation will be matched by the federal government, making the base of the scholarship $1.2 million. The foundation is offering an additional $100,000 to match private donations to the scholarship from the community. That money would also be matched, leaving a potential scholarship base of $1.6 million.

Launching a new business is a daunting task for any entrepreneur. Deaf and hard-of hearing students pursuing new ventures face additional challenges which can often prevent them from becoming successful. This has resulted in a dearth of deaf entrepreneurs. “One of the foundation’s core areas of interest is deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” says Malcolm Macleod, foundation president. “Our creation of an endowed scholarship for innovation and entrepreneurship for deaf and hard-of-hearing students at RIT/NTID was a natural outgrowth of these ideas. We have every confidence that this will help generations of deaf and hard-of-hearing students to become successful entrepreneurs.”

Nearly half of all NTID students come from families with annual household incomes of less than $30,000; nearly a third come from families with annual incomes of less than $18,000. The scholarship is expected to enable some students to go to college after high school as opposed to entering the workforce without a college education. It is also expected to enable the students to devote more time on research and studying than working to pay for college. A typical student may earn $7.50 an hour, so a $5,000 Johnson Scholarship Foundation would be equivalent to a student working more than 650 hours.

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