Helen Keller International Awarded Grant from The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven to Support ChildSight® Connecticut in New Haven

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$200,000+ Will Help Provide Free Vision Screenings and Prescription Eyeglasses to Children Living In Poverty.

The shared commitment between Helen Keller International and The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven continues to meet the high level of need for vision care among children in the New Haven community.

Helen Keller International is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a two-year grant of $200,899 by The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. The grant will help in continuing the work of the ChildSight® program, which provides comprehensive, high-quality vision care services to low-income children in New Haven.

ChildSight has screened nearly 98,000 students in Connecticut and provided over 21,000 pairs of free prescription eyeglasses to students in need and has been able to continue serving New Haven families over the past 10 years through the generous support of the Foundation.

The program goes directly into schools to conduct free vision screenings, refraction assessments with a licensed optometrist, and prescription eyeglasses for children who need them. Students select their own frames from an assortment of fashionable colors and styles and the new glasses are delivered to the school in about two weeks. The ChildSight team returns to the school to distribute the eyeglasses, as well as verify each prescription, make any needed adjustments and fittings of the frames, and provide instruction for children on use and care for their new eyeglasses. The program also identifies students in need of a full eye examination due to potentially more serious conditions, and provides them with a referral to local ophthalmological partners.

“ChildSight has made a positive and significant impact on thousands of New Haven children and families who would otherwise needlessly struggle with untreated vision disorders,” said Nancy Prail, Director of ChildSight. “Our shared commitment with The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven has allowed us to continue our work in meeting the high level of need for vision care among children in the community, and further examine and address the barriers that low-income families face in receiving the care they need.”

The new grant will allow ChildSight to further expand its services in the New Haven community to include enhanced educational outreach to parents and students about the critical importance of eye health. Over the next year, in addition to providing free, on-site refraction assessments to approximately 1,800 children and delivering free prescription eyeglasses to about 900 of them, ChildSight will conduct 15 community outreach events and recruit and train 10 Peer Parent Educators, who will assist with education and outreach to families.

“The work being undertaken by Helen Keller International in New Haven is vitally important to address an important healthcare need of our community’s most vulnerable children,” said William W. Ginsberg, president and CEO of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. In keeping with donor intent, funding for the ChildSight grant was made possible through the Jennie C. Bronson and Albert Zunder Funds, established in 1976 and 1951, respectively, at The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.

Correctly prescribed eyeglasses are a simple, cost-effective solution to common vision disorders such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Unfortunately, in New Haven nearly three-quarters of all public school students are economically disadvantaged based on their eligibility for free or reduced price lunch. This is more than twice the statewide eligibility rate in Connecticut. With limited means, many New Haven families simply cannot afford or easily access a vision screening or a pair of prescription eyeglasses, leaving thousands of low-income children with undiagnosed and unaddressed vision problems. Without clear vision, children struggle to read, to see the board, and to engage with their teachers and classmates. Poor vision ultimately isolates children, delays their learning, and places them at risk of dropping out. All because a simple need has gone unmet.

“The ChildSight program makes a world of difference at our school,” noted Kathy Bozelko, a nurse at Clinton Avenue School in New Haven. “Not only do they provide the vision screening to our children, but now we also have an eye doctor coming to our schools and so that our students can get the right prescriptions.”

About ChildSight®
ChildSight®, a program of Helen Keller International, brings free vision care services and prescription eyeglasses to children in underserved communities in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Ohio. Launched in 2000, ChildSight Connecticut serves students in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Norwich. To date we have screened 97,837 students and provided 21,739 pairs of free prescription eyeglasses to Connecticut children in need. The program bridges the gap for children in critical economic need by eliminating the two primary barriers to vision care services: 1) access to screening and assessment and 2) prohibitive expense. We go directly into schools with a licensed consulting optometrist to provide vision screenings, refractions, prescription eyeglasses and ophthalmological referrals. The students we serve live within 200% of the poverty level and have extremely limited access to basic health or vision care services. We select schools based on demonstrated need, using criteria such as high student poverty levels, a history of high eyeglass distribution rates (if ChildSight has previously serviced the school), recommendations from the school districts and whether the school receives government assistance. Learn more at http://www.hki.org/childsight

About Helen Keller International
Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International’s mission is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health, and nutrition. Visit http://www.hki.org for more information.

About The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven
Thanks to the generosity of three generations of donors, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven awarded $21 million in grants and distributions in 2013 from an endowment of approximately $430 million and comprising hundreds of individually named funds. In addition to its grant-making, The Community Foundation helps build a stronger community by taking measures to improve student achievement, reduce New Haven’s infant mortality rate, promote local philanthropy through http://www.giveGreater.org ® and encourage community awareness at http://www.cfgnh.org/learn. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s 20 town service area includes: Ansonia, Bethany, Branford, Cheshire, Derby, East Haven, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Milford, New Haven, North Branford, North Haven, Orange, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton, Wallingford, West Haven, Woodbridge. For more information about The Community Foundation, visit http://www.cfgnh.org, find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.org/cfgnh or follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cfgnh.

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Heather Mangrum
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