Several Queens elected officials today lauded Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña‘s announced expansion of the City’s vision partnership with Warby Parker, providing free vision screenings, eye exams and eyeglasses to an additional 97 Community Schools in the city this school year.
The expansion will bring critical vision services to all 227 Community Schools in the city, reaching an additional 118,000 students and providing nearly 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses.
Since the partnership was launched in 2015, approximately 94,000 students attending 130 Community Schools received vision screenings and more than 20,000 pairs of free eyeglasses have been distributed over this same time period—far exceeding the goal of providing 20,000 pairs of eye glasses in the first four years.
“It’s simple – to perform well in school, our children need to be able to see clearly,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Sunnyside, Astoria, College Point, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Corona, Woodside, Bronx). “Access to eye care is a basic necessity and being able to detect poor vision as early as possible is paramount. I applaud the expansion of the City’s partnership with Warby Parker to provide free vision services and offer glasses to thousands of students who need them.”
The City is dedicating more than $1 million to support the expansion of this innovative partnership that provides free vision screenings and medical eye exams for all children in Community Schools who need them. Children can then select their own pair of glasses for free from a wide array of Warby Parker designs created specifically for Community School students. One in five children who have received screenings have been found to need glasses and this partnership allows students to see more clearly and better prepares them to learn.
“Kids who need glasses can’t read without them,” said City Council Member Daniel “Danny” Dromm (D- East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights), who chair’s the council’s Education Committee. “As a former NYC public school teacher, I saw way too many students come to school without their glasses for a number of reasons but mostly because their parents couldn’t afford them. These free eyeglasses, screenings and exams help meet students’ health needs and equips them with the resources they need to focus—literally and figuratively—on their studies. I fully support this partnership, part of our city’s holistic approach to public education.”
Founded in 2010, Warby Parker is a NYC-based lifestyle brand that offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Serving the community has been a part of their DNA since the very beginning.
Internationally, Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program trains adults in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 3 million pairs of glasses to people in need. Prior to the partnership with the Community Schools Initiative, the company piloted a similar program from 2014-15 to provide New York City students with the vision corrections they need to excel in the classroom. This Community School expansion will enable the brand to reach even more kids, furthering the goal of ensuring that all local students who need glasses have the resources to access them.
“I am extremely pleased that the Department of Education will expand the vision screening program to an additional 97 schools. Many children do not know they have vision problems. Additionally, many parents lack the insurance to get their child tested or to acquire glasses for their children. Without proper screening and ultimately providing glasses to those students in need, they would never know the benefits of corrective lenses or contacts. By diagnosing vision disorders early, we can give a real educational future to all those students that otherwise would not be able to see the board or read properly,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker (D-Woodside, Jackson Heights, and East Elmhurst).
The expansion of free vision services builds on the city’s commitment to Community Schools. Through the Community Schools Initiative, students and families can access a range of resources that support learning, health and wellness, family and community engagement and attendance improvement. Based on local need and availability of additional resources, Community Schools also offer a range of services, including school-based health centers, food pantries and adult education courses, in addition to vision services.