The city is expanding its vision-screening program to all 130 community schools and will partner with Warby Parker to provide a free pair of glasses to students in need.
“The city estimates the New York City-based company will provide glasses to approximately 20,000 students over the next four years,” stated a press release. “The new partnership will strengthen New York City’s Community Schools initiative, which helps students overcome barriers to learning, such as vision impairments that prevent children from reading or seeing the blackboard.”
The press release continued, “To ensure that every student in need can be served by the program, the city is expanding vision screening to all 130 community schools. For the first time, the city is providing free eye tests for students in middle and high school through the Community Schools initiative, as well as to elementary schools.”
According to the press release, “As a result, 65,000 more students will receive vision screening. Mayor [Bill] de Blasio made the announcement at P.S. 50, a Renewal School in Manhattan that will participate in the program next year. All Renewal Schools are also becoming community schools and will integrate academics, social services and supporting the needs of families.”
“For thousands of children who are ready to learn, but whose vision may be holding them back, the future just got clearer and brighter,” de Blasio said. “We are deeply appreciative of Warby Parker’s donation of new eyeglasses to thousands of students at Community and Renewal schools.”
Public Advocate Letitia James said that 20 percent of school-aged children have some type of vision impairment. Many children, especially those in low-income communities, go without vision screenings and glasses because of finances.
“When our students can’t see, they can’t learn,” James said. “I am grateful to Warby Parker for this partnership so that every child is granted a vision test, and every child who needs glasses will be given a free pair.”
The city has budgeted $10 million for the expansion of vision screening over the next four years, including $2 million per year baselined for each of the coming years in the Adopted Budget.
“We started Warby Parker with the goal of transforming the eyewear industry by offering an alternative to the overpriced and underwhelming prescription glasses on the market. Since 2010, we’ve been committed to building a business designed to solve problems,” said Warby Parker co-founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina said the partnership and expanded access to vision screening will help thousands of kids thrive.
“We know that in order for students to learn, they need to be in school and they also need to be able to see the front of the classroom or read the book at their desk,” she said.