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20-20 Vision

20-20 Vision: A New York City Community School Partnership Tackles Vision Disparity

July 24, 2015

Have you ever tried to study while being unable to see your learning material? For many youth in America, this is their reality each and every day. Vision disability is the most common preventable disabling condition in youth according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In his 2010 report, Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement Gap, Charles Basch writes that poor vision is clearly linked in the research to lower academic performance. The community schools strategy is designed to address such prevailing issues. This month, through a partnership between the City of New York and Warby Parker, the popular online eyewear company, we have a prime example of how businesses can partner with schools to give youth the supports they need and, in this case, mitigate health issues affecting opportunities to learn. 

Warby Parker intends to deliver free glasses to 20,000 students in need within NYC’s 130 community schools. The city will provide free eyesight screenings to 65,000 students. When announcing the new partnership, Neil Blumenthal, Warby Parker co-founder and co-chief executive officer said, "Our goal is to provide these students with their first pair of glasses for free so they can experience the immediate and direct positive impact that a pair of glasses can have on their life, especially academics."  

The partnership is especially exciting for those working in schools, who regularly see poor vision as one of the many roadblocks to student success on a grander scale. According to a NYC press release, "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." The Warby Parker/City of New York Partnership gives a clear example of how the community school strategy can aid in enlisting local business leaders in creating change across schools. 

With strategic partnerships within the community schools strategy, we see business leaders in their local community address academic or health-related issues. This partnership is indicative of the idea that when local business leaders work with community schools, they can pinpoint community problems and address these issues in order to improve the future for students across a variety of settings.


Additional resources:

·         Oyler Community Learning Center (Cincinnati) OneSight Vision Center
·         Business leader roles in Community Schools
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