Our History

The Walker Foundation

The Walker Foundation was established in 1979 as a private, non-profit fundraising arm for The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB). Its original name was “The Foundation for the Multi-handicapped, Blind and Deaf of South Carolina, Inc.” The Foundation strives to support SCSDB in every way possible to ensure that its students achieve maximum success through high-quality educational programs, outreach services and partnerships.

The Walker Foundation’s tradition of giving to the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind has continued over 30 years, and we uphold the generosity of its founders, Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker and Martha L. Hughston Walker. We receive community support and charitable contributions from gracious donors who share our mission and the State’s mission to support the school and its students; we were proud to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2009, and we look forward to many more years to come.

 

The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind

Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker and wife Martha Hughston Walker established Cedar Springs Asylum in 1849 near Cedar Springs in Spartanburg.

The State of South Carolina purchased Cedar Springs Asylum along with 157 acres for $10,579 and renamed it the South Carolina Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind.

The school began to see tremendous growth and community support during the 1900s. In 1944 it initiated a teacher education program for the deaf at Converse College, and it began to mainstream some students at Spartanburg High School.

Throughout the next several decades, The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) incorporated a variety of programs into their institution. An aphasiac program was developed in 1961 to serve students with multiple handicaps or brain injuries, which gave way to the opening of the School for the Multihandicapped, now known as Cedar Springs Academy, in 1977. Around this time it also began weekend bussing which allowed students to travel home more frequently.  In 1978 the federal government required public schools of the nation to “assume responsibility of educating all handicapped students,” and many SCSDB students moved to their home school districts for schooling.  The late 1980s presented the establishment of the school’s Postsecondary Program and its first permanent Outreach Center in Charleston, SC.

The South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind celebrated the 160th anniversary of its founding in 2009.

The Walker Foundation Is Changes Its Name

In 2018 The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind’s fundraising arm started the new year with a new name.

“We have a new name but the same important mission,” said Lynne Burton, foundation board chair. Formerly The Walker Foundation, the school’s foundation will now be known as The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation. “The school has strong support throughout the state, and our foundation needed a name that individuals could immediately connect with the outstanding reputation of the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. The new name will provide greater clarity and more immediate recognition of our foundation’s mission,” said Burton.

The new name also reflects the foundation’s renewed strength toward meeting the school’s needs. In recent years, the foundation has broadened its board membership and sought increased involvement from civic clubs and community organizations. It has developed stronger ties with current donors, enhanced relationships with potential contributors, and significantly expanded its grant writing efforts.

The Walker name will always serve as a reminder of the Walker family’s contributions…

The school’s administrative building, Walker Hall, will retain the name and continue the legacy of the school’s founding family. In the 1840s, Reverend Newton Pinckney Walker and his wife, Martha, dreamed of success for every student and opened their home to students needing a specialized school. “In many ways, the Walkers were the school’s first donors. They were willing to give of themselves and to ask others to help meet the students’ needs. The Walker name will always serve as a reminder of the Walker family’s contributions, our rich history, and our dreams for the future,” said Ann Akerman, chief executive officer of the foundation.

Founded in 1979, the foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to securing resources that enable the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind to achieve its mission and goals. Since its beginning, the foundation has raised more than $15 million to support enriching educational experiences for both on-campus students and those served by outreach programs throughout the state. Its fundraising work focuses on raising money for instructional resources, adaptive technologies, and growth experiences that would otherwise not be available through state and federal funding.

“While the School for the Deaf and the Blind is a state-supported public school, it’s essential that we continue to develop additional funding sources to expand our impact throughout the state,” said Ann Akerman, CEO of the foundation. “We’re excited about the opportunity to do more for the school in supporting its programs, both on campus and through outreach programs in school districts and homes all over South Carolina.”

“We know that all children have unlimited potential, and our goal is to embrace every possibility for every student,” said Lynne Burton. “We believe that gifts to The SC School for the Deaf and the Blind Foundation not only help to empower the school’s students to succeed, but also strengthen our state’s workforce, economy, and quality of life. We look forward to continuing our efforts to support the school as it works to change the lives of children and their families.”