Additionally, DonorsChoose.org has partnered with lifestyle brand Warby Parker to provide funding for eye exams and eyewear, currently being piloted in New York City. Warby Parker has pledged $100,000 to match citizen donations to these requests on DonorsChoose.org. This partnership is part of a larger initiative by the company known as the Pupils Project, which aims to provide access to eyeglasses and improve the academic performance of students in need across the U.S.
"When students come to school hungry, cold, uncomfortable, or self-conscious, it's very difficult for them to focus on learning. Teachers are often the first to recognize a student in need, and we want them to have the tools to help," said Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org. "For 17 years, DonorsChoose.org has been the place for teachers to request the classroom materials they need to give their students a great education. We're so grateful to our Student Life Essentials supporters for helping us expand beyond classroom resources to bring essential items to the students who need them most."
A 2014 study from the National Center for Education Statistics reported that one in five school-age children lives in poverty, and countless studies have shown that students facing the challenges of poverty underperform their more fortunate peers.
In a survey of more than 2,000 educators from America's highest poverty classrooms, DonorsChoose.org found that 84% of these teachers have spent their own money to provide for the basic needs of their students:
- 64% of teacher respondents provided clothing, jackets and shoes
- 54% of teacher respondents provided food
- 50% of teacher respondents provided personal hygiene items
Of these teachers, 63% report spending over $100 of their own money per school year on essential items for their students. Yet the benefits are profound: teachers reported seeing a boost in confidence and self-esteem, greater ability to focus, and reduced absenteeism among students who received support.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vision disability is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children in the United States. Glasses are an essential learning tool that can improve academic performance, engagement, and opportunity, and Warby Parker estimates that between 20-25% of New York City public school students have vision problems and require optometric testing and glasses, but don't currently have access. Warby Parker is working to ensure that every student in the U.S. has access to the eyewear necessary to succeed.
"Warby Parker is committed to providing access to eyecare and eyeglasses to school children in need in New York City," said Neil Blumenthal, co-Founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker. "Teachers can often be a child's best advocate for vision health and frequently identify the problem first. We're proud to be part of the DonorsChoose.org Student Life Essentials project launch and look forward to championing the program as it expands. This partnership brings us one step closer to our goal of solving the issue of vision disability among students in the U.S."
DonorsChoose.org has launched a special page where donors can fund Student Life Essentials projects, and has provided instructions for teachers wishing to create these new projects.
Teachers can learn more about the Pupils Project pilot, which is currently open to New York City 3rd-8th grade teachers, and donors can find eligible eyecare projects to fund here.
Founded in 2000 by a Bronx history teacher, DonorsChoose.org has raised more than $515 million for America's classrooms. Teachers come to DonorsChoose.org to request the materials and experiences they need most for their classrooms, and donors give to the projects that inspire them. More than 2.5 million people and partners have funded 860,000 projects on the site, reaching nearly 22 million students and making DonorsChoose.org the leading platform for supporting U.S. public schools. DonorsChoose.org is the only crowdfunding platform that vets each request, delivers materials directly to schools, and captures the impact of every funded project with photos, thank yous, and a cost report showing how each dollar was spent. In 2014, DonorsChoose.org made the top 10 of Fast Company's list of the World's Most Innovative Companies, the first time a charity has received such recognition.
Contact: Christopher Pearsall
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