For more than 40 years, blind individuals in Pasadena could count on the support of Vista Nova Renaissance Community, a 17-room home located in northwest Pasadena. There, trained therapists and a team of inspired volunteers offered specialized training, served as readers, and provided transportation and companionship.
Several years ago, the Vista Nova home closed; in 2016, funds from the sale of the property were used to establish the Vista Nova Renaissance Endowment Fund, which is managed by Pasadena Community Foundation and serves as one of PCF’s “Funds for Pasadena” in the area of Human Services. The endowment funds the Vista Nova Grant Program, which supports organizations that assist visually impaired people in the greater Pasadena area and the eastern part of LA County. It honors the original mission of Vista Nova by supporting a population with unique challenges; specifically, those whose eyesight cannot be improved with corrective glasses or medical procedures.
Since its inception in 2017, PCF’s Vista Nova Grant program has distributed more than $117,000 in grants to organizations that offer compelling programs to assist this population. PCF is proud to announce the four organizations selected to receive the 2021 Vista Nova Grants.
2021 Vista Nova Grantees
Academy of Music for the Blind
The Academy of Music for the Blind (AMB) provides musical training for young blind students while also providing support with computer literacy, academics, and socialization. During the pandemic, the Academy successfully transitioned to virtual learning and was able to reach more students. The grant will allow AMB to ensure 1:1 student/teacher ratios during instruction, which is key to this population. AMB has received a Vista Nova Grant each year since the program’s inception in 2017.
Braille Institute of America, Inc.
The grant will support Orientation & Mobility (O&M) training at the Braille Institute. By focusing on fall prevention, staying socially engaged and physically active, and being self-sufficient, O&M skills help address the isolation, depression, and physical inactivity that often accompany vision loss and help clients feel empowered to take responsibility for their self-care and stay as independent as possible. This is the Braille Institute’s fourth Vista Nova grant.
Cal State LA University Auxiliary Services, Inc.
As a first-time Vista Nova grantee, the Cal State LA Auxiliary Services will begin a pilot program and develop educational modules designed to support visually impaired students in the transition to college campuses.
Dr. Nicholas Casias, Cal State LA Assistant Professor in Special Education and Counseling, notes that “Academic and independence preparedness occurs before coming to college. Students with visual impairments must have foundational O&M (Orientation & Mobility ) skills, including travel skills in and around a chosen college campus.” The pilot program, Dr. Casias says, “will facilitate O&M specialists who will provide coherent and structured lessons to support the development of these skills.”
Wayfinder Family Services
Also a first-time Vista Nova grantee, Wayfinder Family Services provides individualized early intervention services to infants and children (0-6) with vision impairment, as well as medical, educational, and community support services for their families. PCF’s grant will support the Early Intervention Program to help children improve their use of any residual vision, while strengthening their cognitive, motor, language, social, and mobility skills. It also supports parent education, which serves as the foundation for coping and supporting a visually impaired child.
Miki Jordan, Wayfinder’s CEO, is grateful for the support, noting “PCF’s generosity has helped Wayfinder offer these essential, free services to the 165 young clients who reside within the greater Pasadena area and eastern portion of LA County, as well as nearly 500 of their family members.”