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Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind Foundation

www.vsdbfoundation.org

Mission: The mission of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind (VSDB) Foundation is to provide support and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of VSDB and education of communities served.

Community Need: In 2016, the Virginia Department of Education reported that statewide 1,468 students have a hearing impairment, 649 have a visual impairment, and 21 students are deaf-blind. Inclusive schooling does offer socialization and diversity exposure, but many individuals are unaware of the benefits of specialized education found at a school such as VSDB. Schools for children with sensory impairments offer comprehensive academic, health, and socialization programming and curricula tailored for their specific needs and learning styles.

Primary Activities: The VSDB Foundation provides financial support to create, expand, and maintain educational programming for their students. They fund educational and extracurricular trips for students and staff such as visits to other deaf and blind schools to learn best practices for educating students with sensory impairments. The VSDB Foundation assists VSDB staff in implementing innovative programming, such renovating and furnishing Independent Living Apartments (ILA) which facilitates the development of critical skills for adult life, and provides hands-on learning in a supervised apartment setting.

Constituents Served: The VSDB Foundation supports all visually or hearing impaired students enrolled in Pre-K-12 at VSDB. VSDB is operated as an agency of the Commonwealth and collects no tuition or fees from its students. The student body is comprised of 93 students in: pre-school-elementary (21); middle school (20); high school (52). Fifty-three students are deaf/hard of hearing, 25 are blind/vision impaired, and 15 are multi-disabled. Fifty-nine students are residential, returning home each weekend, and 34 are day students. Nineteen (19%) of the students are residents of Staunton, Waynesboro, or Augusta County.

Program Details:  In 2012, VSDB implemented the CROPS program which consisted of a part-time director, raised beds, and a greenhouse. In 2013, VSDB partnered with the Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) to establish an urban farm on the VSDB campus. In the fall of 2015, the VSDB Foundation agreed to provide funding for a second part-time employee. In 2018, the VSDB Educational Urban Farm transitioned from AMI’s management to VSDB, and the VSDB Foundation has assumed full funding for the project. With the transition, VSDB will align the focus more with educational needs than production.

The overall program goal is to increase student access to local foods, to advance educational opportunities and improve understanding of classroom concepts through agricultural innovation. CROPS staff accomplish this goal through an educational/urban farm, a riparian buffer, a raised bed garden, a small greenhouse/workspace, a sensory garden, and a youth garden business. All aspects of education are incorporated: art, nutrition and physical fitness, math, science, history, and English and students are involved in gardening: selecting seeds, plant propagation, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, and composting. In conjunction with the Friends of the Middle River, students helped create a riparian buffer of native plants along Lewis Creek to filter pollutants and attract wildlife and beneficial insects.

Amount Requested: $3,000

Operating Budget: $194,200

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