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‘If you can’t see, you can’t read’ Richmond students get free glasses

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RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 7,000 Richmond Public Schools students will receive free eye glasses this school year. In addition to the glasses, 20,000 students will undergo free vision screenings as part of a collaboration between nonprofits Vision To Learn and Conexus.

"If you can’t see, you can’t read. And if you can’t read, you can’t succeed," Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said Thursday. "Richmond is grateful for this partnership and proud to be the first Virginia community in which every child, K-12, will be provided the glasses they need to achieve inside and outside of the classroom."

The program is supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, Robins Foundation, and Richmond Community Foundation.

"Launching this program in Richmond is the first step toward ensuring that our students have all of the tools they need to succeed in the classroom," Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said.

Richmond Schools Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz said he hoped the new glasses would lead to better grades and higher test scores.

"Students who need glasses and don't have them, are at a learning disadvantage," Kranz said. "Eyeglasses distributed today and throughout this program are one of the most important tools in creating a better educational experience for our students."

Students at Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary were the first to receive the screenings and glasses. Of the 389 students screened, 32 percent were found to have a potential vision problems. Of the 104 students who had eye exams, 97 were prescribed glasses.

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