Seeing is Believing
2017 — For Vision To Learn, a Very Good Year
Strictly by the numbers, 2017 was a record year. Vision To Learn now serves kids in 10 states and more than 200 cities across the country, from Honolulu to Baltimore. All told, we’ve helped more than 100,000 kids, with plans to help many, many more.
Of course, Vision To Learn is about something more important than numbers — it’s about the kids. Here’s a recap of what we’ve been up to the past few months.
With Kendrick Lamar in Watts
Kendrick Lamar captured the spirit of the occasion: “We love and appreciate every single one of y’all that brought something out for these kids. If you don’t do it for nobody else, do it for the kids. That’s the future.”
Focused on the Solution With Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz then welcomed two kids from Wilmington, Delaware — his hometown — into the studio, where he and Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner helped them try on their first pair of glasses. One of the children who participated in the program said: “Now that I have these glasses, they give me the power to see a lot. [I’m] able to read better, do my math better, see better and [I’m] able to do a lot more stuff. Thank you for helping me get my glasses.”
Rainbows in the Aloha State
As many as 20,000 kids in Hawaii go to school each day without the glasses they need to see the board, read a book or participate in the classroom. To address the issue, Vision To Learn has teamed up with local non-profit Project Vision Hawaii. Project Vision Hawaii will provide vision screenings to every child, and Vision To Learn will provide each child who does not pass the screening with an eye exam and glasses — all free of charge.
“This program will help ensure that our students have all of the tools they need to succeed in the classroom,” Governor Ige said. “Through efforts like these, we can help thousands more students obtain the glasses they need to thrive in the new Hawaii economy.”
The effort is supported in part by funding from the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, the city and county of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii.
Christmas, Community, and the Currys
On December 15, Vision To Learn joined the Warriors Community Foundation to help Steph Curry (aka Santa) and his wife, Ayesha, bring holiday cheer to kids in need. The event — Christmas, Community and the Currys — brought 250 Oakland children and their families to the Jamtown indoor basketball facility for an evening of toys, music and needed services. Vision To Learn provided each child with a vision screening, and more than two dozen children with an eye exam. A merry time was had by all, with some kids receiving something extra special: improved vision for the holidays and beyond.
Seeing Like Hawks
On December 14, Hall of Famer and former Hawk Dominique Wilkins helped provide glasses to 111 students at Fickett Elementary School, in the heart of the Ben Hill community in southwest Atlanta.
“Atlanta Public Schools is excited to work with Vision To Learn to help students achieve in the classroom and beyond,” said Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen. “The support of the Atlanta Hawks Foundation will show our students that wearing glasses is cool.”
Swimming With the Sharks (Foundation)
Teaming with Vision To Learn is the Sharks Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the San Jose Sharks hockey team. A multi-year sponsorship from the foundation helped fund a mobile clinic for the San Jose area. Team mascot S.J. Sharkie was on hand to help show off the clinic.
“We know seeing Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie on the Vision To Learn mobile clinic will encourage kids to wear their new glasses,” said Heather Hooper, the Sharks Foundation director.
The effort is part of a broader Vision To Learn plan for Northern California, to ensure that all kids in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento, and the greater Bay Area have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life. The project is supported by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a venture started two years ago by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
“Vision To Learn’s program immediately removes a simple but significant barrier to learning and achievement for…students,” said Jim Shelton, the head of the Initiative’s education division.
A Visionary Collaboration in Virginia
“Launching this program in Richmond is the first step toward ensuring that our students have all of the tools they need to succeed in the classroom,” said Governor McAuliffe, who signed legislation this year to require routine, high-quality eye exams in Virginia public schools.
Collaborating with Vision To Learn on the project is Conexus, a Richmond-based nonprofit that works to eliminate poor vision as a barrier to children’s success in school and life.
Leading up to the event, all 389 students at Redd Elementary were screened; of those, 104 students needed eye exams, and 97 were provided with glasses.
“The benefits of good vision are profound,” Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said in an opinion piece for the Richmond Times-Dispatch he co-authored with Vision To Learn Founder Austin Beutner. “Research shows that, after receiving glasses, students’ math and reading grades increase, their classroom behavior improves, and they are better able to focus on class discussion and assignments.”
Looking Ahead to 2018
So what do Kendrick Lamar and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe have in common? Why, Vision To Learn, of course. In the spirit of the holiday season, we want to thank them and the thousands of Vision To Learn supporters, partners, and volunteers for their help this past year. Our dedicated staff looks forward to working with you throughout the new year and beyond, to ensure that every child has the glasses he or she needs to succeed in school and in life.