Nonprofit giving students free eyeglasses


A student receives a pair of eyeglasses. Courtesy GRPS

A nonprofit vision care provider is teaming up with a school district to give students free glasses.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit Vision To Learn is partnering with Grand Rapids Public Schools, or GRPS, and the Kent County Health Department to provide students with the free services, according to the partners last month.

An estimated 3,000 children in Grand Rapids need glasses, and through this collaboration, every GRPS student will receive a free vision screening, eye exam and — if needed — a pair of glasses.

“Children who have trouble seeing often struggle in class. Yet, many students lack access to basic vision care,” said Vision To Learn President Ann Hollister. “By bringing free eye exams to kids at school, Vision To Learn helps them get the glasses they need to succeed.”

Aberdeen PK-8th school is the first GRPS school receiving the service, the first in West Michigan. In the past month, 174 students were provided with vision screenings, 35 students then received eye exams and 22 were prescribed and provided glasses.

At an event to launch the collaboration, those 22 students tried on their glasses for the first time.

“It’s rare that a single intervention can make such an immediate and meaningful difference in a student’s education,” GRPS Superintendent Weatherall Neal said. “Through this program, students who need glasses will get glasses, and as a result, they’ll do better at school.”

Vision To Learn

Founded in 2012, Vision To Learn began operations out of one van in Los Angeles and now serves children in low-income communities in more than 300 cities, including Detroit and Flint, in 12 states.

Since its inception, Vision To Learn has helped provide vision screenings to more than 800,000 kids, provided more than 170,000 eye exams and given 135,000 pairs of glasses.

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