Tens of Thousands of Students to Receive Free Glasses and a Better Opportunity to Learn


Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is betting big on students’ eyesight.

Zuckerberg announced this week that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the nonprofit he runs with his wife, Priscilla Chan, is donating money to Vision to Learn, which provides eye exams and glasses to students in low-income communities.

Many poor students who struggle with reading actually are grappling with undiagnosed poor vision.

“There are few simple things that are guaranteed to have a positive effect on children’s education and life trajectory,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “This is one of them.”

According to a news release, the nonprofit Vision to Learn started in L.A. with one van in 2012, and has grown to include mobile clinics serving more than 450,000 students in over 180 cities. The clinics give children eye exams and glasses if they need them.

Zuckerberg’s group has a policy of not stating the size of its donations. But, according to Vision to Learn, the Chan Zuckerberg donation will enable the organization to reach 40,000 more children in Northern California and 80,00 more children in Los Angeles during the next two years.

Zuckerberg’s first major foray into education giving was in 2010, when he went on “Oprah” and announced a $100-million gift to Newark, N.J.’s, public schools, with the understanding that it be matched. But the surprise announcement sparked distrust in the community, and Zuckerberg reportedly had misunderstood who decided teachers’ contracts, which he wanted to change.

A spokeswoman for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative stressed that the grant showcases the group’s focus on “taking a whole child approach to learning.”

Original article published by LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-essential-education-updates-southern-mark-zuckerberg-s-foundation-is-helping-1497038672-htmlstory.html