Scholarships for People With Disabilities

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The University of Minnesota is working with a former student to set up a fund to provide […]

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MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL – The University of Minnesota is working with a former student to set up a fund to provide college-bound scholarships for students with disabilities, calling it the Marshall Access Education Fund (MAEF). If successful, it will be the first scholarship fund at the university targeted for students with disabilities.

The scholarship name reflects the close connection between the University and the former Marshall U High School in Dinkytown,@ said Harvey Johnson, a 1939 graduate of Marshall U High and the driving force behind MAEF.

Because it’s so close to the University, many graduates of Marshall U High went on to study at the U. of M., recalled Johnson, 84. AIn those days, Marshall U High was a school that serviced students with disabilities from the Minneapolis School District.

Marshall U High has since been closed and the building soldClater becoming the UTECH Building C but its alumni still keep in close contact with each other through newsletters and reunions held every five years.

Johnson himself was disabled. He suffered from epilepsy. Because of the illness and frequent seizures, Johnson managed only one year at the University of Minnesota before being forced out of school. However, the disability did not prevent him from maintaining a high quality of life. He eventually overcame the illness and spent a long career as a Northwest Airlines mechanic.

Johnson never forgets the difficulty students with disabilities face, and he is trying to help by establishing MAEF.

Johnson is working with the U of M Office of Disability Services and the University Foundation to raise funding for an endowment. If the campaign is successful, Johnson and the University plan to give out scholarships and eventually provide enough money to set up a writing lab for students with learning disabilities.

There are currently about 1,000 students with disabilities at the U of M, Johnson said.  We just want to give [those students] the [same opportunities] everybody else has for education and extension of their minds. With our help, these students and future students will continue to achieve their education goals.

So far Johnson has received individual donations from between $20 and $100 and is closing in on a $9,000 figure. He has learned from potential donors that tax deductible status is a high priority and that’s what led him to get involved with the U of M.

If you would like to learn more about the scholarship fund, or make a donation, feel free to call Evonne Bilotta at the university’s Disability Services Office at 612-625-3676. You can also contact Johnson directly at 612-332-2756 or visit on the web at

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