Chancellor Fariña, Deputy Mayor Buery and Senior Advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff Announce Expansion of Vision Partnership with Warby Parker to 97 Additional Community Schools

  • Posted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 Updated: Wed Apr 18, 2018

Expansion provides an additional 118,000 students at all 227 Community Schools across the City with vision screenings. Approximately 20,000 pairs of glasses will be distributed at no cost to families this school year

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Senior Advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff today announced an expansion of the City’s vision partnership with Warby Parker, providing free vision screenings, eye exams and eyeglasses to an additional 97 Community Schools in New York City this school year. The expansion will bring critical vision services to all 227 Community Schools in New York City, reaching an additional 118,000 students and providing nearly 20,000 pairs of eyeglasses.

Since the partnership was launched in 2015, approximately 94,000 students attending 130 Community Schools received vision screenings and more than 20,000 pairs of free eyeglasses have been distributed over this same time period—far exceeding the goal of providing 20,000 pairs of eye glasses in the first four years.

“We know if students can’t see the whiteboard or read the book in front of them, they simply can’t succeed in school. Community Schools address the whole needs of the child, including school-based health supports,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña . “This expansion will provide thousands more students with free eye glasses and vision screenings, and help students cultivate a love of reading from an early age, and we’re grateful to Warby Parker for their partnership.”

“Our partnership with Warby Parker is an excellent example of government and the private sector combining our efforts to achieve maximum impact for New Yorkers. Wildly exceeding our original projections over the first two years, our expanded partnership will ensure that over 100,000 additional students receive the vision support critical to excelling in the classroom,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives 

“Today we are proud to announce the expansion of New York City’s partnership with Warby Parker, which has given thousands of NYC students not only a free pair of eyeglasses but also the opportunity to succeed at school. The early success of our partnership shows the positive impact of leveraging the ingenuity and goodwill of the business community to improve the lives of New Yorkers,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships . “We are thankful to Warby Parker for their commitment to ensuring that all of our students have the necessary tools to be the best students they can be and we encourage others to follow their model of social impact.”

“We’re thrilled with the progress we’ve made in the first two years of our partnership with the City of New York,” said Warby Parker co-Founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal. “Vision impairment is the single most prevalent disabling condition among children in the United States and we’re proud of the steps we’ve taken so far to address a complex issue in our own backyard.”

“The success of this program proves that access to proper vision care remains a critical need for thousands of New York City students,” said Warby Parker co-Founder and co-CEO Dave Gilboa . “We look forward to providing even more students with the glasses they need to excel in school.”

“One in four children in community schools will need glasses,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett . “Vision screenings can identify students who need glasses to see the blackboard as well as those with amblyopia, or ‘wandering eye,’ which can cause permanent vision loss. Expansion of these critical vision services to additional Community Schools will help reduce disparities and support students’ academic success.”

“The Community Schools strategy leverages partnerships, increases opportunities, and reduces barriers so that students are prepared for success,” said Christopher Caruso, Executive Director of Community Schools . “Our work with Warby Parker highlights all three of these components and has helped level the playing field by providing tens of thousands of children with eyeglasses.”

Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Executive Director of Community Schools Chris Caruso, Senior Advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff and Warby Parker co-Founders and co-CEOs Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa announced the expansion at P.S. 315 in Flatbush. This is the school’s first year in the Community Schools program.

The City is dedicating more than $1 million to support the expansion of this innovative partnership that provides free vision screenings and medical eye exams for all children in Community Schools who need them. Children can then select their own pair of glasses for free from a wide array of Warby Parker designs created specifically for Community School students. One in five children who have received screenings have been found to need glasses and this partnership allows students to see more clearly and better prepares them to learn.

Founded in 2010, Warby Parker is a NYC-based lifestyle brand that offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Serving the community has been a part of their DNA since the very beginning. Internationally, Warby Parker’s Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program trains adults in developing countries to give basic eye exams and sell glasses to their communities at affordable prices. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 3 million pairs of glasses to people in need. Prior to the partnership with the Community Schools Initiative, the company piloted a similar program from 2014-15 to provide New York City students with the vision corrections they need to excel in the classroom. This Community School expansion will enable the brand to reach even more kids, furthering the goal of ensuring that all local students who need glasses have the resources to access them.

The expansion of free vision services builds on the City’s commitment to Community Schools. Through the Community Schools Initiative, students and families can access a range of resources that support learning, health and wellness, family and community engagement and attendance improvement. Based on local need and availability of additional resources, Community Schools also offer a range of services, including school-based health centers, food pantries and adult education courses, in addition to vision services.

“Kids who need glasses can’t read without them,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm . “As a former NYC public school teacher, I saw way too many students come to school without their glasses for a number of reasons but mostly because their parents couldn’t afford them. These free eyeglasses, screenings and exams help meet students' health needs and equips them with the resources they need to focus—literally and figuratively—on their studies. I fully support this partnership, part of our city's holistic approach to public education.”

“I applaud the City and Warby Parker for the foresight and vision that led to this partnership, helping students in need get eyewear and eye care that can make a world of difference in their education and overall wellness. Initiatives like these are truly enhancing the Community School mode that I have been proud to support through millions in capital investment at a number of institutions across Brooklyn, including the creation of a school-based health and vision center at PS 188 Michael E. Berdy in Coney Island. Let's continue to explore innovative approaches that help our city raise healthy children and families,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams .

“It’s simple - to perform well in school, our children need to be able to see clearly,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Queens) . “Access to eye care is a basic necessity and being able to detect poor vision as early as possible is paramount. I applaud the expansion of the City’s partnership with Warby Parker to provide free vision services and offer glasses to thousands of students who need them.”

“There are many students in our school system that have not have their vision tested and are in need of glasses. The vision partnership expansion between the New York City Mayor's Office and Warby Parker is another step in the right direction as it will not only ensure that our students have access to adequate vision testing services, but that they are able to get the support they need to thrive in and outside of the classroom,” said State Senator Kevin Parker .

“The Vision Partnership between NYC and Warby Parker has produced outstanding results,” said Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte . “This partnership has been incredibly beneficial for our Community Schools and especially for our children. The provision of free vision screenings, eye exams and eyeglasses just continues to exemplify Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Administration’s complete dedication to ensuring every child will have access to every tool and resource necessary to improve their education and ultimately, improve their lives. An additional 118,000 students will benefit from this expansion and I wholeheartedly applaud these efforts.”

“I am extremely pleased that the Department of Education will expand the vision screening program to an additional 97 schools. Many children do not know they have vision problems. Additionally, many parents lack the insurance to get their child tested or to acquire glasses for their children.  Without proper screening and ultimately providing glasses to those students in need, they would never know the benefits of corrective lenses or contacts. By diagnosing vision disorders early, we can give a real educational future to all those students that otherwise would not be able to see the board or read properly,” said Assembly Member Michael DenDekker .

“Students face a wide variety of obstacles that stand in the way of their receiving the best possible education. One that is too-often neglected is simple- an inability to see clearly, and therefore to concentrate, in class,” said City Council Member Jumaane Williams. “We need to do all that we can to address these kinds of impediments to learning, and I’m pleased that Warby Parker and the City are able to partner together to make these solutions accessible to low income and disadvantaged students and improve their quality of life and quality of education in a meaningful way.