Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards

For Learning Ally members who are completing undergraduate or graduate degrees and are blind or visually impaired

DEADLINE: Applications must be submitted, emailed or postmarked no later than June 30, 2018


Each year, the Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement awards are presented to Learning Ally members who are completing undergraduate or graduate degrees, and who are blind or visually impaired, in recognition of academic achievement, outstanding leadership, and service to others.

Mary P. Oenslager was a friend of Anne Macdonald, our founder. She began contributing to Learning Ally, formerly RFB&D, in 1953 and, in 1959, helped us establish the Scholastic Achievement Awards program, personally funding the awards. Mary P. Oenslager shaped the program and enjoyed getting to know the winners each year. In addition to her financial support, she was an active volunteer, serving on our Board of Directors, and actively recruited individual and corporate supporters.

Offered since 1991, the awards are given to seven students who are chosen by a selection committee. Learning Ally awards the three top winners $6,000 each and three special honors winners $3,000 each, and a $1,000 award to an additional winner. Winners will be notified of their scholarship awards in early 2019.

Applicants should be aware that:

All scholarship awardees must be capable and willing to publicly share their story and represent Learning Ally as a spokesperson and advocate at various local, virtual and national events. Costs associated with these events will be covered by Learning Ally.

Scholarship Application Requirements

Candidates that meet all of the eligibility criteria must submit the following documents:

1. A fully completed and signed personal application

2. Personal Narrative Statements responding to the following questions within defined word counts:

  • A Brief description about your background and your future personal and professional aspirations. Include challenges you have overcome with details specific to your learning disability and/or visual impairment, including detail on issues related to your studies, the rigor of curriculum and growth in your academic performance over time. (word count: 500)
  • When and how did you discover and begin using Learning Ally? What difference has Learning Ally made in your life, and how has Learning Ally helped you both in the classroom and life in general? (word count: 500)
  • What advice would you give to other students who might need Learning Ally? (word count: 150)
  • Explain how and why you would be a good Learning Ally spokesperson and advocate? (word count: 150)

3. Details of any honors, awards, and noted achievements, including educational honors, special awards, honorary society memberships, and any special accomplishments (recognition, scholarships, and talents). (word count: 100)

4. Brief description of any of your extracurricular, community activities, and leadership roles. Please provide timeframes and the extent and level of involvement. (word count: 500)

5. One letter of recommendation for this award from someone (must be a non-relative and not a legal guardian) who has had a positive influence/impact on your academic performance and success. This may be a teacher, tutor, community leader, or school administrator who knows you personally and can speak to your classroom performance and extracurricular activities. The letter of recommendation must be accompanied by a referral form and personally signed by the author.

6. An official transcript of your grades from your most recent degree may be required if you are selected in the pool of final candidates.


  • Only fully completed applications will be considered for the awards.
  • Please DO NOT send additional information (such as news clippings, photos, or additional references) beyond that which has been specifically requested. Such information will not be considered and will not be returned.
  • Applications must be submitted no later than June 30, 2018.

Questions? Contact Member Success at or call (800)221-4792.