Effort will provide free glasses to 160 students at five schools in Des Moines.
An event at Lovejoy Elementary this morning celebrated the launch of Vision To Learn in Des Moines and provided 20 students with free glasses to help them succeed in school and life. Vision To Learn, a non-profit charity, started serving kids in Iowa in Dubuque in January 2016, Des Moines in April 2017 and plans to serve kids throughout the state in the months and years to come.
“Providing kids with glasses changes their lives. They become more confident, participate more in the classroom, and do better in reading, math, and all of their schoolwork,” said Austin Beutner, Founder and Chairman of Vision To Learn.
The Vision To Learn mobile clinic will travel to schools in central Iowa to provide vision exams and glasses to students. United Way of Central Iowa and the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines helped launch the effort in Des Moines.
This spring, around 2,000 students at Lovejoy, Capitol View, King, Moulton, and Monroe elementary schools will receive vision screenings by a school nurse or trained staff and volunteers with Prevent Blindness Iowa. Students who do not pass an initial screening will receive an eye exam from Vision To Learn clinicians. Children prescribed glasses can choose a style and frame from a wide selection offered by Vision To Learn. The glasses are then provided to each child, all free of charge.
“This innovative program is another way we are mobilizing our community as part of Read to Succeed to help all children read proficiently by the end of third grade,” said Elisabeth Buck, president of United Way of Central Iowa. “This program especially gives students a vital tool they need to learn, and ultimately, to graduate from high school.”
“The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines is proud to support Vision To Learn,” said Kristi Knous, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines. “We understand the critical role success in the classroom has on the lives of these students today and for the rest of their lives. We look forward to these students becoming our community’s next generation of leaders.”
“Prevent Blindness Iowa is pleased to be part of this program,” said Jeanne Burmeister, Executive Director of Prevent Blindness Iowa. “Keeping children’s eyes healthy has been part of our mission since 1958. Early treatment of vision problems in young children will support a child’s overall development, early literacy skills, and ultimately, school performance.”
United Way is working with Vision To Learn to expand the program, targeting a large number of schools in central Iowa.
About United Way
United Way of Central Iowa fights for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. For over 100 years United Way of Central Iowa has brought together nonprofits, businesses, government, community leaders, volunteers, and more to identify and tackle central Iowa’s toughest challenges. Focusing on issues such as early grade reading, poverty, mental and social health, high school graduation, and career training, United Way of Central Iowa inspires central Iowans to give, advocate, and volunteer to improve lives and empower all in our community. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit www.unitedwaydm.org.
About Vision To Learn
Vision To Learn began operations with one van in Los Angeles in 2012, and now serves kids in low-income communities in over 180 cities from Baltimore to Honolulu. Vision To Learn serves the needs of the hardest-to-reach kids in low-income communities; more than 89 percent of kids served by Vision To Learn live in poverty, and 87 percent are kids of color. Since its inception, Vision To Learn has helped screen more than 430,000 students, provided almost 85,000 with eye exams, and provided 65,000 with glasses – all free of charge.
About the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines improves quality of life for all by promoting charitable giving, connecting donors with causes they care about, and providing leadership on important community issues… we’re simply better together. The Community Foundation manages assets in excess of $450 million, administers over 1,650 charitable funds and distributed over $29 million in grants in 2016.
About Prevent Blindness Iowa
Prevent Blindness Iowa is Iowa’s leading volunteer eye health and safety organization dedicated to fighting blindness and saving sight. Focused on promoting a continuum of vision care, Prevent Blindness Iowa touches the lives of thousands of people each year through public and professional education, advocacy, certified vision screening and training, community and patient service programs and research. For more information on eye health and safety, call Prevent Blindness Iowa at 515-244-4341/800-329-8782 or visit http://iowa.preventblindness.org/.
The following representatives are available for interviews at the 10 a.m. press event:
• Elisabeth Buck, President, United Way of Central Iowa
• Kristi Knous, President, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
• Corrine Kroger, Iowa Regional Director, Vision To Learn
• Jeanne Burmeister, Executive Director, Prevent Blindness Iowa
• Students who are receiving glasses for the first time
Media will also have the opportunity to tour the Vision To Learn mobile clinic.