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Vision To Learn Receives $1.1 Million Funding Commitment For Expansion of Mobile Vision Clinic Serving Iowa Students

Posted on August 14, 2023 in Foundation

Vision To Learn_Glasses Presentation

Vision To Learn and Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation glasses celebration and grant announcement event at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Cedar Valley at Elk Run Heights club.

Vision To Learn, a national nonprofit providing children in low-income communities with vision screenings, eye exams and glasses at no cost to students or their families, will expand its Iowa operations with a $1.1 million funding commitment from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and DeltaVision. The funding will support the purchase of an additional mobile clinic and three years of operational expenses.

“One in four school-aged children has a vision problem that if not detected or treated early could impact not only a child’s learning, but their overall health and wellness,” said Suzanne Heckenlaible, executive director of Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation. “As Delta Dental has expanded into vision benefits with DeltaVision, we have also expanded our Foundation’s mission to include vision education and access. We are proud to support Vision To Learn and their work to expand vision care services and provide glasses for children across Iowa.”

“More than 3 million children across the country go to school every day without the glasses they need. When a child comes to school, we make sure they’re provided with food, along with the books and school supplies they need. Why not glasses?” said Austin Beutner, founder of Vision To Learn. “Every child in every school, everywhere in the country, should have the glasses they need to succeed in school and in life.”

Accessing vision care services can be especially challenging for low-income individuals in urban and rural communities. Most children who need glasses don’t have them due to financial constraints, language barriers, challenges navigating health care systems or the simple fact that there are no eye care professionals in their neighborhood. Vision To Learn’s mobile clinics visit children at their local neighborhood schools, removing barriers so kids can receive the vision care and the glasses they need to succeed in their education and beyond.  

“We are grateful for the support Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and DeltaVision have shown for our work to expand access to vision care for students in need,” said Corrine Kroger, Iowa regional director for Vision To Learn. “With a second mobile clinic operating in Iowa, we’ll be able to provide an additional 3,000 children with eye exams and 2,000 with glasses each year.”

On August 3, Vision to Learn, along with the Foundation and DeltaVision held a joint event at the Boys and Girls Club of the Cedar Valley, to announce and celebrate the $1.1 million gift and unveil designs for the new DeltaVision mobile vision clinic. Children in attendance received an opportunity to receive a new pair of glasses and celebrate with their peers.

Since its Iowa launch in 2016, Vision To Learn has provided more than 15,000 eye exams and over 12,000 glasses to children across the state. When the organization visits a school in its mobile clinic, they provide care to all children regardless of insurance or citizenship status.

Vision concerns often go unaddressed in school-age children. In Iowa, Vision To Learn estimates about 25,000 children need eye exams and 20,000 lack the glasses they need to see the board or read a book.

Uncorrected vision problems make children more likely to fail at least one grade, more likely to be misdiagnosed with a behavioral issue, less likely to read at their grade level by third grade, and be labeled a “slow” learner by 5th grade. All of these factors snowball, increasing the risk of children dropping out of school early and leading to potential health challenges later in life.

The new DeltaVision mobile clinic is expected to begin serving Iowa students later this fall. Kroger states that, “Adding a second mobile clinic will allow us to work towards our goal of improving health and educational equity in Iowa by increasing access to vision care for children.”

Vision To Learn continues to seek partnerships and funding opportunities for future programming. For more information about supporting their efforts contact Corrine Kroger, Iowa regional director for Vision To Learn, at [email protected].