Annual Report 2019

Welcome to Impact 2019

From the CEO and Board Chair

Dear Friends,

It is our great pleasure to introduce you to the faces of Perkins—the many faces of our community. Inside these pages you’ll find the faces of our students and families, filled with strength, courage and determination. You’ll see the faces of our educators and volunteers, shining with generosity, kindness and humanity. And you’ll find faces of our supporters—people just like you—who make our work possible.

Together, these faces tell our story. For nearly 200 years, Perkins has worked to ensure that every child with blindness and additional disabilities has the opportunity to discover and realize his or her full potential. The work is constantly changing—from new innovations in assistive technology and programming, to new challenges like cortical/cerebral visual impairment. And while that work is far from done, knowing that we count you among the many faces of our supporters is what fuels our belief that success is possible. Thank you for your unwavering support. Together, we take a step forward towards building a better, more inclusive world every day.

Together, we are Perkins.


headshot of dave power
signature of Dave Power
Dave Power
President and CEO

headshot of corinne basler
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Corinne Basler
Chair of the Board

P.S. We’ve also created a fully accessible PDF version of this annual report.

amanda is smiling while swinging

"Amanda is a girl who truly loves life."

Finding Her Voice


“Amanda is a girl who truly loves life,” says mom Ileana. Sit with Amanda even briefly and you can’t help but notice this is true.

Read more about Amanda

Amanda began her time at Perkins when she was four years old . Like many Perkins students, Amanda requires a unique set of therapies and support. In fact, her family moved from Cuba to Guatemala and then Florida in search of these services. At Perkins, they found what they need; her decade on campus proves it.

Here, Amanda has developed many skills, but of particular importance for a social butterfly like Amanda was learning how to communicate through assistive technology. Before she couldn’t verbalize her needs or preferences. Now she's “able to have a voice,” says Ileana, and interact with the people around her.

As Amanda prepares to enter our Secondary Program, her family is confident that she’ll succeed because “she’s gone through difficult times but always with a big smile.”


Students and their families choose Perkins for services and support that can’t be found elsewhere. A lack of vision impacts a child’s development in significant ways. Incidental learning—such as reading social cues or orienting oneself within a room—is disrupted for children with visual impairment, leading to developmental deficiencies and other issues. Perkins’ educators use unique approaches and the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) to address this issue and to set students on the path to success.

Perkins educates the whole child, from traditional academics to the technology skills that allow our students to have a voice from the moment he or she steps on campus.

Teacher Claire signs “all done” into Lucas’ hands indicating the completion of a classroom activity.

"Perkins gave us so much hope."

Tackling the Leading Cause of Blindness


It doesn’t take much to keep Lucas happy. He’s always been an easy-going kid, describes his mom Agnes, but his journey to Perkins’ Deafblind Program wasn’t always easy.

Read more about Lucas

Lucas has cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI)—a medical condition that affects his ability to see and process the world around him. A child with CVI, for example, may see the world as a swirling mass of color. “We didn’t understand what CVI was,” says Agnes. “The doctors wouldn’t say he’s blind, but they wouldn’t say he’s not blind.”

For Lucas’ parents, there was a real urgency to find him the best care. That’s because when a specially trained educator works with a child with CVI and his or her family, the child’s vision and life can improve dramatically. Every hour that passes without the right care truly is a lost opportunity. On their first campus visit, Agnes remembers feeling relieved. “Perkins gave us so much hope.”


Lucas’ family is not alone. Today, 60 percent of kids who are blind have CVI. But while CVI is the fastest growing cause of blindness in children in the U.S., too few educators and medical professionals are equipped to diagnose and intervene. Meaning countless families struggle to get people to listen to them about something they see and feel.

As a global leader and innovator in blindness education and services, we won’t stop until every child and family has access to the resources they need. Diagnosing and teaching children with CVI requires new approaches, new research, and a retraining of educational professionals on a massive scale, but we’re undaunted. With your continued support, Perkins can help more children like Lucas see.

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60% of kids who are blind have cortical/cerebral visual impairment (CVI)

Teacher Sue Sullivan works with Nihi to group blocks into sets of 10 to build her non-visual sense of numbers.

"I'm one part teacher, one part cheerleader."

Expert Teachers Make All The Difference


Lively, kind-hearted, warm and passionate are just a few words that describe Sue, a beloved teacher at Perkins. She helps students overcome hurdles and unlock their full potential by making STEM subjects—like math and computer science—accessible and fun. “I’m one part teacher, one part cheerleader,” she says.

Read more about Sue

One of her greatest achievements happened this past year: she brought computer science to Perkins’ highschool program. Sue realized that many students were being introduced to coding and she wanted to ensure students who are blind or visually impaired have the same opportunity. She taught herself computer science, researched best practices, and adapted computer science instruction to make the lessons more accessible.

“I meet students where they are and give them the support they need to succeed.” Sue tells us. In doing so, Sue opens up a whole new world to our eager and excited students.


Students at Perkins succeed in large part because of teachers like Sue, one of many passionate, innovative professionals who bring education to life for Perkins students.

Perkins’ teachers provide educational experiences that are both highly intentional and specifically tailored to each student’s unique needs—from ensuring that our materials are in braille when appropriate, to using assistive technologies and other tactile materials and so much more. Your ongoing support ensures we can attract and retain dynamic, inventive and committed teachers like Sue. Accommodations like these can make all the difference for students who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired with additional disabilities.

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John never lets anything stop him from achieving his dreams.

Making Dreams Come True


After being homeschooled for seven years, John came to Perkins when he was 16. Here, he transformed from a shy boy to a confident young man. Among many things he learned on campus, John developed crucial skills that prepared him for life after Perkins. For instance, working at the cafe on campus sparked John’s dream of selling hot dogs at Fenway Park.

Read more about John

“He has so many skills,” says Jena, his mother. “It just takes him more time to learn.”

Perkins’ educators build learning these important life and vocational skills into every classroom at every age. Students learn how to manage money, can work in the cafe like John or deliver flowers around campus.

Fast forward to today: After John has graduated from Perkins, he built a thriving business, DogHouseDogs, where he and his friends sell hotdogs at local softball tournaments, town events, public events and parties in Massachusetts– and the Pawtucket Red Sox games in Rhode Island. John has tackled a host of medical challenges throughout his life, but he never lets anything stop him from achieving his dreams.


When it comes to entering the workforce, young adults who are blind or visually impaired face multiple obstacles. For example, far too many young adults graduate high school without the right technological skills to succeed in a modern workplace.

Studies show only one-third of working-age adults who are blind or visually impaired are employed

You work to increase that number when you support Perkins School for the Blind. Your dollars help us develop more ways to prepare our students, like one of our newest program Career Launch, that trains high school or college graduates who are vision-impaired or blind in the skills necessary to land their first career-oriented job.

Thanks to your generosity and support, Perkins can empower more students with what they’ll need to succeed in life, college or on the job.

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of working-age adults who are blind or visually impaired are employed.

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"This work is food for my soul."

Every Child Can Learn


Ayush, 13, lives with his family in India. For years, he was unable to go to school because of the fact that he’s visual impaired with additional disability was widely misunderstood by local educators, who believed he could not learn. Ayush's story, however, is headed in a different direction, in part because of people like Supriya Das.

Read more about Supriya

He’s not alone. In India 1 million children like Ayush live a life of isolation, without education. This is because parents, doctors and teachers are not yet trained to identify the special learning needs of these children and connect them with schools and services to help them learn.

For over 10 years, Supriya has worked to improve the lives of children like Ayush because she believes, as does Perkins, every child can learn.

After Supriya graduated from the Perkins International Educational Leadership Program in 2014, she returned to India full of ideas. With limited resources, she began an infant and toddler program that grew from serving three families to 30 in just one year. She trained her staff using the best practices she learned at Perkins.

To date, she’s trained over 200 professionals, some of whom have started their own programs, trained more educators and helped even more children like Ayush unlock their full potential. Supriya is one person, reaching thousands: she brings hope and learning to countless children, families and communities.

Every day, she wakes up grateful: “This work is food for my soul,” she says.


Every day, millions of children with visual impairment around the world are denied the education they need to reach their full potential. Early identification and intervention can drastically change a child’s life, but it takes a complex set of skills to identify and teach children who are blind, deafblind or visually impared with additional disabilities. Outside of the U.S., many educators often lack this essential training.

Perkins International breaks barriers to education for children like Ayush. Over the past 100 years, we’ve trained teachers from all over the world, transforming educators into leaders. Your support is vital: it costs $50,000 per participant to support an educator in the Educational Leadership Program. The program brings educators from around the world to Perkins, where they learn from our exceptional faculty—through peer-to-peer instruction and hands-on learning with our students in the classrooms.

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100 years of reaching the world's most vunerable children

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"Those smiles keep me invested."

Inspired By Boundless Determination


Peter Gelhaar first came to Perkins over twenty years ago. He didn’t know sign language, and couldn’t read braille, but he was a strong competitive swimmer in college and wanted to make a difference. He volunteered to teach swimming lessons to Perkins students, not knowing that his time at Perkins would be some of the best days of his life. He’s reminded of those days every year when he attends Perkins’ holiday concert.

Read more about Peter

Over the years, Peter’s role has changed from volunteer to donor. “There are many organizations that help people, but I continue to be struck by the seemingly boundless determination of Perkins’ students,” he says.

When it comes to the future of Perkins and blindness education, Peter is excited about the opportunities new technology will provide. “Technology evens the playing field for so many Perkins students,” he says. “The technology is as inspiring as the students that benefit from it. I’ve seen so many Perkins’ kids overcome challenges—always with smiles on their faces. Those smiles keep me invested.”


Supporters of Perkins School for the Blind give both their generous gifts and their time. Volunteers play an important role in the success of the work we do here at Perkins. Whether building specialized equipment in the Assistive Device Center to empower students on campus, supporting children and families in our Infant and Toddler Program or recording audio books for Perkins Library patrons, volunteers make a profound difference in the lives of our students and in the work that we do.

A special thank you to our supporters—past and present—for their life-changing impact on children and young adults who are blind, deafblind or visually impaired.

a headshot of Steph on a computer

"College Success is about being the best person you can be."

Succeeding in College


College was always part of the plan for Steph, but after graduating high school Steph lacked the confidence and know-how to thrive in higher education as a student who is blind.

Read more about Steph

To get better prepared, Steph joined Perkins’ newest program College Success. For nine months, Steph and seven other ambitious students who are blind or visually impaired from across the country developed the technological literacy, independent living, orientation and mobility and academic skills necessary for success in college and beyond.

“[At Perkins], you don’t feel like you’re on your own. But at the same time you are encouraged—in fact required—to push yourself,” says Steph. “College Success is about becoming the best person you can be.” That’s certainly what Steph achieved. Steph discovered inner confidence and here’s proof: This fall, Steph started at Lesley University.


Every year, smart, ambitious students who are blind or visually impaired like Steph either skip college or matriculate only to discover they don’t have the skills needed to successfully navigate the demands of college life.

As a result, only an estimated four of every 10 enrolled college students with visual impairment graduate.

It’s likely, based on what we have learned from the College Success program, that countless students who are blind or visually impaired never achieve their full potential because of inadequate preparation.

Perkins’ College Success program works to close that skills gap. Your unwavering support enables us to admit participants who don’t have access to funding through their school district or their family resources. Together, we make the difference for these students’ futures.

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enrolled college students with visual impairment graduate

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"Our hope is that more Perkins students will excel in STEM."

Investing in Our Future Leaders

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The Cabot Corporation Foundation

The Cabot Corporation Foundation has proudly supported Perkins since 2006. Then-CEO Ken Burnes agreed to support Perkins' development of a science and math curriculum specifically related to meeting state standardized testing requirements in mathematics.

Read more about Cabot

Cabot’s giving philosophy prioritizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, recognizing that today’s students will be the thinkers, innovators and leaders of the future. This philosophy aligns well with Perkins’ mission to prepare children and young adults with visual impairments and multiple disabilities with the education, confidence and skills they need to realize their potential. Since 2006, the Foundation has generously provided several multi-year grants to support math education in the Secondary Program, which has enabled students to receive more individualized instruction and create tactile graphics that make it easier to understand new math concepts.

“Our hope is that more Perkins students will excel in STEM, expanding their access to both college and employment opportunities,” says Sean D. Keohane, President and CEO. “Through our association with Perkins, we know that every child can learn, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Over the past 13 years, the Foundation’s involvement has evolved: Employees serve as Members of the Corporation and on several Board committees, as well as participating in the Perkins Business Partnership and the Career Launch program. Cabot employees have also assisted in crowdsourcing transportation location data to populate the BlindWays mobile app, which helps to close the navigation gap for the visually impaired in Boston. Cabot has also generously sponsored the annual Perkins Possibilities Gala.

Says Keohane, “Our Foundation is committed to providing education opportunities and making a positive impact in our community, and we are excited to continue supporting Perkins to further these goals.”

The faces of Perkins—our supporters, teachers, parents, administrators, staff and board members—comprise a diverse community that contributes wide-ranging talents and support that make the work we do possible, every day. Perkins couldn’t do what it does without you, nor would we have achieved the successes we have for children, young adults and families alone. We are grateful for your support.

Our annual financial results, events and lists of our esteemed board, Members of the Corporation and supporters follow.

Financial Summary

For the year ending June 30, 2019

This past year was critical for the future impact of Perkins School for the Blind, launching new initiatives and continuing to fund our core programs. Like every year, Perkins strives to strike a balance between sustainability and strategic growth.

Expand to see the financial data

FY2019 operating revenue by source

A pie chart displaying each region: "Government" region is 56.4%. "Gifts and grants" region is 14.9%. "Other" region is 28.7%.

Government: Federal, state and local

State and local






Gifts and Grants







Planned gifts







Private payers


Sales of products and services*


Donated volunteer services


Other revenue


Endowment return used in operations


Transfer to quasi-endowment




* Primarily includes sales of braillers and accessibility consulting services

FY2019 operating revenue total


FY2019 expenses

A pie chart displaying each region: "Programs" region is 81.1%. "Administrative" is 14.9%. "Fundraising" region is 5%.


Educational Services


Perkins International


Perkins Library


Perkins Solutions










FY2019 expenses total


Net assets for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019 were $352,008,287.

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Your Support Makes All the Difference

The faces of Perkins — our supporters, teachers, parents, administrators, staff and board members — comprise a diverse community that contributes wide-ranging talents and support that make the work we do possible, every day. Perkins couldn’t do what it does without you, nor would we have achieved the successes we have for children, young adults and families alone. We are grateful for your support.

List of Donors Who Contributed Over $1000

Board of Trustees