2021 Grants Challenge

Help Underserved LA Youth See Clearly Everyday!

Vision To Learn (VTL) was founded to make sure that every child in America has the glasses he or she needs to succeed in school and in life. About 1 in 4 kids naturally needs glasses. In low-income communities, approximately 95% of kids who need glasses do not have them. VTL seeks to solve this problem affecting over 250,000 students in LA County by bringing a mobile optometric clinic directly to schools and community sites to provide students in low-income communities with vision care: screenings, eye exams and glasses, all free of charge.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South LA


South Bay

Antelope Valley

County of Los Angeles

City of Los Angeles

LAUSD (select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

VTL addresses a problem affecting over 2 million school children nationwide, and more than 250,000 in LA County, who lack the glasses they need to see the board, read a book, study math or participate in class. 1 in 4 kids naturally need glasses. But, in underserved communities, 95% of kids who need glasses do not have them. Students with uncorrected vision problems often avoid reading, suffer headaches, and have trouble focusing in class, as 80% of learning during a child’s first 12 years is visual. They are more likely to fail a grade, less likely to read by third grade – a milestone critical to preventing dropout – and more likely to engage in delinquent behavior (70% of juvenile offenders have uncorrected vision). The issue is one of access many low-income communities have few eye doctors, families are not aware of the need for eyecare and lack transportation or other resources. VTL’s mobile clinics address this need by meeting the children where they are every day – in school.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

VTL will complete approximately 3,320 screenings, 830 eye exams (25% fail rate from screenings) and provide 664 prescription glasses (80% of exams result in glasses) during school year 2021-2022. VTL has the capacity and proven track record to accomplish this goal. VTL has 8 clinics in LA serving students in 28 school districts and children organizations (e.g., Boys & Girls Clubs). Since January 2018, VTL has provided nearly 500,000 vision screenings, 54,874 exams and 43,888 pairs of glasses to LA Unified students, representing nearly half of the students in LA County. Beginning in SY 2021-22, our proposed program is to provide glasses to every remaining K‐12th grade child in LA County who needs them. VTL has signed MOUs with many LA school districts towards this goal for SY 2021-22. VTL’s Screening and Examination process is: 1. VTL schedules and performs vision screenings using a Welch Allyn Spot Vision Screener, to determine which students have vision difficulties. 2. VTL’s mobile clinic comes to the school, where trained opticians and optometrists conduct eye exams for every student who fails their vision screening. 3. If a student needs glasses, he/she chooses a frame from a wide selection on the clinic. Glasses are delivered approximately 3 weeks later. 4. If a child loses/breaks their glasses within 1 year, VTL replaces them free of charge. 5. VTL returns every 2 years to provide continuity of care at schools.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 3,320

Indirect Impact: 13,280

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

VTL provides glasses predominantly to students of color and students in need. All LA K-12 schools served by VTL have student populations where 65% or more qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Price Lunch Program. By closing a healthcare access gap for these students, VTL fosters opportunity by helping them do better in school, participate in sports, and have the self-confidence to thrive in daily life. VTL uses an evidence-based model of care, independently analyzed by researchers at the UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital and Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Center. We expect children provided glasses by VTL to have: (1) Improved Access to Care. (2) Prevention of Blindness: Students with more serious eye conditions were referred to follow-up care. (3) Academic Improvement: Students receiving glasses from VTL showed improvements in math and reading GPAs. (4) Higher Self Esteem: Group screening and exams reduced the stigma traditionally associated with wearing glasses.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Since our founding in 2012, VTL has provided over 500,000 vision screenings, 147,400 eye exams and 116,100 glasses to over 1580 sites -- helping the most vulnerable children in LA see clearly. VTL measures the number of students provided vision care by tracking the followingdata: vision screenings, exams, glasses, and vision correction in a secure, cloud-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) database, updated in real time by optometric staff in our mobile clinics. VTL’s EMR tracks results by student, mobile clinic, school district, and geographic area, which means we are able to report outcomes and exact number of children served.. A recent Johns Hopkins/Wilmer Eye Institute 3-year controlled study has shown that students recovered significant learning time due to VTL’s program as measured by standardized test results. This is critical to closing the learning gap, in post-COVID LA.

Which of the LIVE metrics will you impact?​

Healthcare access

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

LA is the best place to LEARN