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Kirschner Trusts at Oklahoma City Community Foundation awards grants to Oklahoma schools for the blind and deaf

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

MUSKOGEE, Okla. – The Kirschner Trusts at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation has awarded three grants valued at $75,000 to the Oklahoma School for the Blind and  Oklahoma School for the Deaf.

Two OSB grants will assist in remodeling the OSB boys’ dormitory and expanding the school’s Transition program, which helps students prepare for and experience employment opportunities.

The OSD grant will fund the school’s LINKS to Literacy program, and health and wellness programs for OSD students.

The LINKS to Literacy program will identify at-risk students who are deaf or hard of hearing and pair them with a deaf mentor who is fluent in American Sign Language. This mentor will assess the student’s current language ability and develop an individualized plan for developing language. The goal is to help fill in language gaps and to support the student’s communication of ASL for both home and school. 

The yoga and art studio will give students a place to learn in constructive, subjective and mindful spaces. They will have the opportunity to create art and express themselves creatively, as well as participate in yoga, which will help them in managing their thoughts and emotions during calming activities.

“Kirschner Trusts has been very generous to both Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma School for the Deaf with their wonderful grants,” OSB Superintendent Rita Echelle said. “It is exciting to be able to utilize these funds to impact our students.” 

Echelle is serving as interim superintendent at Oklahoma School for the Deaf until the school’s new superintendent Dr. Heather Laine arrives on January 17.

OSB and OSD serve preschool-age through 12th-grade students with free education programs that meet all state-mandated academic requirements.  Students attend classes four days a week. The schools transport residential students home for weekends, holidays and summer free of charge. Other students live close to campus or attend summer school programs. In addition, OSB provides free outreach services to benefit students attending other public schools, their families and educators.

At OSB, specialized instruction includes training in braille, orientation and mobility, use of low vision adaptive equipment and technology, and tactile graphic skills which are not readily available at other public schools in Oklahoma.

OSD is a deaf education immersion school with a focus on bilingual fluency in English and American Sign Language. The school has a strong vocational program that offers business technology, family and consumer sciences, and welding classes on site.

After managing her family’s foundation for more than 30 years, Miriam Freedman, daughter of philanthropists Phil Kirschner and Roberta Landwirth Kirschner, transferred the Kirschner Trusts to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation in 2013.

Kirshner Trusts awards grants to charitable organizations that support causes including Jewish education, culture and heritage; educational and vocational opportunities for children and young adults with disabilities; and Eastern Oklahoma charitable organizations. The Kirschner Trusts also provide scholarship support through the Oklahoma Youth with Promise Scholarship program to students, ages 25 and younger, who have been orphaned or are living in foster care or residential facilities.

Founded in 1969, the Oklahoma Community Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that works with donors throughout the state to create charitable funds that will benefit the community both now and in the future. For more information, visit

Oklahoma School for the Blind and Oklahoma School for the Deaf are divisions of Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services.

For more information about OSB, visit or phone 877-229-7136.

Information about OSD is available at or 580-622-4900.


For more information

Jody Harlan, DRS Communications Director

Cell: 405-203-1318 

Last Modified on Jan 13, 2023