The Carroll Center for the Blind Launches Historic Fundraising Campaign to Support Next Generations

President and CEO Greg Donnelly at the Carroll Center for the Blind campus in Newton.

President and CEO Greg Donnelly at the Carroll Center for the Blind campus in Newton.

NEWTON, Mass. (Dec. 6, 2023) – The Carroll Center for the Blind, a pioneering nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with vision loss, today launched the public phase of a historic fundraising campaign, seeking to harness the power of philanthropy and community to support its people, programs and long-term priorities.

Generations: A Campaign for the Carroll Center for the Blind represents a comprehensive effort to raise $18 million over five years to expand service capacity, recruit and retain talented staff, upgrade and expand campus facilities, and increase the organization’s endowment.  The campaign comes at a crucial time, as the Carroll Center continues to meet a growing need for its services and prepares for an expected surge in demand for vision loss programs due to changing demographic and health trends.

“Since our founding we have been a leader in serving the blind and visually impaired, helping generations of people acquire the tools they need to live full, independent and successful lives.  Now we are creating an opportunity for the community to help us make a significant impact for generations to come,” said Carol A. Covell, Chair of the Carroll Center’s Board of Directors.

The campaign has received substantial support during its initial quiet phase – including a generous donation from the family of the late John A. Cataldo, a Boston-area commercial real estate developer.  His connection to the issue of vision loss began early on when he was inspired by the perseverance and independence of a family member and a member of his church who were both blind.

Cataldo’s support of the Carroll Center has spanned nearly 40 years, making him the largest and most impactful donor in the organization’s history.  His generosity culminated in a $3 million bequest to help future generations of people who are blind and visually impaired.  Cataldo passed away in April 2023.

“John had an unbridled generosity, but it was his sincere kindness that shined at each memorable encounter we had with him,” said Carroll Center President and CEO Greg Donnelly.  “With his transformative gift, which will significantly increase our endowment and also enable us to meet growing demand for our vision rehabilitation and education services, John Cataldo leaves a tremendous legacy of dedication and commitment to the Carroll Center.”

In Cataldo’s honor, and in his and his wife’s memory, the Carroll Center will establish the John and Elaine Cataldo Orientation, Mobility and Wellness Trail, an instructional training path on its campus in Newton.  The trail will serve as an innovative tool for teaching white cane, guide dog and navigational techniques to help people improve their ability to confidently navigate the communities where they live and work.

History & Impact

The Carroll Center for the Blind has served people of all ages in all stages of vision loss for nearly nine decades.  It was originally organized in 1936 as the Catholic Guild for All the Blind, which provided financial aid, clothing, reading circles, employment-seeking assistance, talking books, recreational activities, and transportation.  Father Thomas Carroll – who was known for aiding World War II veterans blinded in battle – was an instrumental figure in its founding and served as its director.

Throughout its history, the organization has pioneered many innovative services and offered a wide range of rehabilitation, vocational, adjustment counseling, assistive technology, educational and recreational programs allowing individuals who are blind or have low vision to learn the skills needed to remain independent in their homes, schools and workplaces.

The Carroll Center is a strong advocate for braille education, hosting the New England Regional Braille Challenge contest for students since 2000.  More recently, in 2021, the Carroll Center launched a Screen Reader User Tester Training program, a career development course that enables adults with visual impairments work in the field of digital accessibility.  Each year, the Carroll Center serves many seniors who are losing their vision for age-related reasons with orientation and mobility instruction in their own homes and continue to provide a historic and impactful low vision program.

The team of experts at the Carroll Center serves thousands of clients annually, including 78% of the blind student population in Massachusetts.  The mission has a national and international reach, with clients from throughout the United States and many other countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, who visit for weeks-long residential programs.

“The Carroll Center was transformational for me.  They taught me how to maximize the vision I had and how to replace lost skills with new ones,” said Martha Steele, Generations Campaign Chair, who experienced vision loss from Usher syndrome, a degenerative and uncurable disease.  “I believe we must ensure that the Carroll Center has the financial resources to shape the future so that others can have similar life-changing experiences.”

Support the Campaign

The Carroll Center is now poised to move forward with a bold strategic plan to invest in its personnel, programs, campus facilities and endowment.  On the horizon is a growing need to be met, as the number of Americans who are blind or visually impaired is expected to rise to an estimated 25 million by 2050 due to the aging population and health-related trends.

This strategic plan will be fueled by the Generations campaign, an unprecedented opportunity for the community to invest in the organization’s future and the next generation of people who are blind and visually impaired.

For more information on how to contribute to the campaign, visit

About the Carroll Center for the Blind

Established in 1936, the Carroll Center for the Blind empowers those who are blind and visually impaired to achieve independence and to lead a fulfilling life.  The nonprofit organization provides services for individuals of all ages including vision rehabilitation services, vocational and transition programs, assistive technology training, educational support, low vision services, adjustment counseling, and essential skills for seniors.  For more information, visit



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