This new local scholarship helps students with learning difficulties live independently


Horizons School
Students from Horizons School. (Horizons School)

For young adults with learning difficulties, acquiring important life skills can be challenging. Horizons School in Birmingham provides the post-secondary education needed to gain essential skills and live independently. Read on to learn more about the school’s positive impact in Birmingham as well as its new Russ West Talent Development Scholarship fund and the remarkable individual it honors.

Helping individuals live independently + successfully

Students out and about in Birmingham. (Horizons School)

Founded in 1991 as a pilot program within the UAB School of Education, Horizons School is a local nonprofit that helps individuals with learning difficulties achieve a higher level of independence and success in their lives. Students attending the school are aged 18-26 years old and have autism spectrum disorder and other and other learning difficulties.

The school’s programs include job training, community involvement and personalized instruction—all designed to meet the unique needs of each student. 

Some of these skills include:

  • Daily living skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Financial management
  • Social skills
  • Time management

The school’s location on 15th Avenue in Birmingham’s 5 Points South plays a prominent role in the lives of Horizon School students. Here’s how:

  • They can learn in a safe and supervised setting.
  • They are within walking distance to essential amenities like grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and restaurants.
  • They have easy access to the city’s public transportation system, allowing them to access all parts of the city and surrounding suburbs.

Learn more and donate to Horizons School.

A remarkable individual + advocate

Russ West
Russ West during his time at the Horizons School. (Horizons School)

Faced with challenges early in life, Russ West attended Horizons School from 1997 to 1999.

Along with the love and guidance provided by his family and friends, the teachers and staff at Horizons School helped him with post-secondary education training for life and work skills development. West rose above life’s obstacles during his life. Here are his personal achievements that stand out:

  • He lived independently in Birmingham. 
  • He was employed with UAB’s groundskeeping department for nearly 10 years. He also worked with Habitat ReStore and Target Stores with support from Horizons staff.
  • He participated in many activities earning numerous Special Olympics medals including gold in downhill skiing.
  • He wrote and self-published a science fiction novel titled The Birth of Vigilante.

West passed away in 2017 and is remembered as an advocate for the school and for individuals with learning difficulties.

“The Horizon program was such an important part of my brother’s life. The self assurance and self reliability he gained was a major turning point in his life and for us to help future students experience that same education through the Russ West Development Scholarship fund is a great thing.”

Charles West

The Russ West Talent Development Scholarship fund

Horizons School
You can help young adults in Birmingham by donating to Horizons School. (Horizons School)

In honor of Russ West, Horizons School has established the Russ West Talent Development Scholarship fund. West passed away in 2019 and is remembered as an advocate for the school and for individuals with learning difficulties. 

The goal of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to Horizons School students who demonstrate a commitment to personal growth and development. It will help fund programs that support students in gaining essential life skills and achieving their goals. 

The best part is that you can help future students of Horizons School by donating to this special scholarship fund.

BONUS: Not only will contributing to the Russ West Talent Development Scholarship fund give you all the feels, but you’ll also receive a free copy of Russ West’s book, The Birth of Vigilante. Donate here and get your free copy!

For more information on how to contribute to the Russ West Talent Development Scholarship, visit the Horizons School website or email Cierra Dunbarr at

To learn more about Horizons School and its impact in Birmingham, visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Sponsored by:

Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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