The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) Office of Special Education and Early Learning used $765,000 in federal funding to award scholarships to 306 Kentucky high school students with disabilities during the 2022-23 year.
The KDE Powered by Inclusion scholarship was made possible with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The federal funding supports the safe and sustained return to in-person learning and expands equity by supporting students who need it most, particularly those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
TaMyah Jordan was one of the students from 116 school districts to receive a $2,500 scholarship. She became vision impaired when she developed bilateral optic atrophy from a brain tumor when she was 6 years old.
Despite these challenges, being enrolled at the Kentucky School for the Blind (KSB) made it, “a little bit easier.”
“All of these steps have helped to get me to the point where I am now,” Jordan said.
Because of her resilience, Jordan’s guidance counselor nominated her for the Powered by Inclusion scholarship program. She is one of two recipients from KSB to receive the scholarship this year.
The 18-year-old from Nashville, Tenn., currently lives in Frankfort. She has been accepted at the University of Kentucky, where she plans to major in merchandising, apparel and textiles this fall.
Jordan said the scholarship will help her accomplish her dream of owning her own fashion brand.
“I was happy because it was another way to help me pay for school,” she said.
Tonika East, Ed.D., Jordan’s mother, has expressed immense gratitude for the opportunities that her daughter has received.
“We are so grateful for the people that have poured into TaMyah to allow her to continue to shine,” she said.
Seniors or grade 14 students who have an Individual Education Program and have obtained postsecondary readiness through Kentucky’s accountability model were eligible for a single $2,500 award for use at any postsecondary education or training program. Local boards of education could nominate up to four eligible students per public school district to apply for the scholarship program.
“Last year’s program provided us with an opportunity to spotlight the success students with disabilities are having in their preparedness for post-secondary education,” said Jason Wheatley, an Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL) ARP transition specialist.
“We were excited to be able to offer the scholarship, which seeks to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in postsecondary environments at a level that met the enthusiasm of professionals in Kentucky’s school districts advocating for students beyond graduation.”