Effort will serve all City Schools by 2019
Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and non-profit Vision To Learn (VTL) founder Austin Beutner marked a major milestone today as the 1,000th student in Baltimore was provided with glasses through a partnership between VTL, Baltimore Health Department, Johns Hopkins University, and Warby Parker. Over the next three years, the partnership will ensure every Baltimore City elementary and middle school student is provided with glasses, free of charge.
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“Vision To Learn is proud to have provided over 1,000 students in Baltimore with free glasses,” said Austin Beutner, Founder and Chair of Vision To Learn. “Glasses will help the kids succeed in school, and in life.”
Baltimore Mayor Catherine E. Pugh led the event at Dr. Bernard Harris Elementary School, where 70 students will receive glasses from the program.
“As a City, we have to not only build better schools, but also ensure our students have everything they need to be successful in school and in life,” say Mayor Catherine E. Pugh. “Vision for Baltimore is a testament to the power of public-private collaborations and will make a real difference to improve performance, engagement, and opportunity for our young people.”
Vision To Learn provides this essential learning tool by bringing care directly to students in schools via its mobile clinics. Through the program, all students in pre-kindergarten through grade 8 receive a basic vision screening. If a student does not pass the initial screening, he or she will receive a vision exam. Glasses are provided for those who need them–at no cost to families. Students in need of additional care are referred to further treatment.
“It is common sense that if children cannot see, they cannot learn. As a city and as a community, we owe it to our children to provide them the best opportunity possible to succeed,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “This starts with sending kids to class fully prepared to learn. Through Vision for Baltimore, we are breaking down barriers by going to every elementary and middle school to provide screenings, eye exams and glasses—all at school, without parents or caregivers missing work.”
Since its inception last year, the program has served kids in 42 schools across Baltimore City where more than 15,000 students received screenings and more than 1,200 students received eye exams.
Today, the 1,000th child received free glasses at Dr. Bernard Harris, Sr. Elementary School in East Baltimore.
A Johns Hopkins University research team, led by Dr. Robert Slavin from the School of Education and Dr. Megan Collins, Dr. David Friedman and Dr. Michael Repka from the Wilmer Eye Institute, is evaluating the program and study its impact on academic performance. The researchers hypothesize that the services provided through the program will improve academic performance for many students.
Vision for Baltimore is funded with support from the Abell Foundation, the Anne E. Casey Foundation, the Hackerman Family, the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, Congressman John K. Delaney, April McClain-Delaney, the CapitalSource Foundation, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. Glasses for the program are be donated by partner Warby Parker.
The citywide partnership will serve all public elementary and middle schools in Baltimore City by 2019.
Vision To Learn operates mobile clinics to provide free eye exams and glasses to students in low-income communities. Vision To Learn is the largest school-based program of its type in the nation and serves students in 176 cities from Honolulu to Baltimore.