The S. Mark Taper Foundation has awarded Vision To Learn, a non-profit organization that provides free eye exams and free eye glasses to elementary school students in low-income communities, a $100,000 grant to provide and expand vision services to children in Title I elementary schools in Los Angeles. Launched in 2012 by the Beutner Family Foundation, Vision To Learn operates mobile eye clinics staffed by optometrists and opticians to serve students who lack the resources or means for adequate vision care.
“This very generous grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation will help Vision To Learn provide more than 1,000 free eye glasses to children in some of Los Angeles’ lowest income neighborhoods,” said Gaye Williams, Executive Director of Vision To Learn. “With this support, we will ensure that children are given the tools they need to succeed in school and build a foundation for a better life. This grant reflects a shared belief with the S. Mark Taper Foundation in the importance of our mission.”
Studies show that as many as 95 percent of first graders entering school who require glasses do not have them, and that vision is an important factor in learning. Students who cannot read a book or see a classroom board can quickly fall behind in school.
Many low-income families lack adequate insurance or finances to secure eyeglasses and many children that require eyeglasses have never received an eye exam. Vision To Learn solves this problem by bringing its mobile clinics to elementary schools to overcome common obstacles, including access to optometrists and the stigma of having to wear glasses.
A study by UCLA researchers at the Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles confirms that vision correction leads to improved scores in both reading and math. The analysis also discovered that by providing glasses in a group setting, Vision To Learn removed the stigma associated with wearing new glasses. Dr. Rebecca Dudovitz, who co-authored the report, said, “In summary, we found that Vision To Learn removes the multiple barriers to treat children with impaired vision from the point of screening all the way through to the child’s willingness to wear their glasses in school.”
For more information on the S. Mark Taper Foundation, please visit www.smtfoundation.org.