Celebrating our 100,000th student served through our technology based children’s vision screening program is a significant milestone and we have many people to thank for this achievement. However, there are a handful of pivotal moments that really created turning points and opportunities to reach these heights and on this path to 100,000 a key investment from longtime supporters Horst and Gloria Arfert is one of those moments.
In 2015 Conexus established a scholarship fund to help defray costs and support VisioCheck programming to some of the more underprivileged Virginia communities. Horst and Gloria made the first sizable donation to this fund which allowed us to reach 22 diverse school divisions and 30,000 students across the Commonwealth.
This was the first large scale “statewide” VisioCheck delivery. This gave Conexus the opportunity to collect extensive data, identifying trends and service needs across Virginia. Successful programming at this level helped Conexus to be successful in the 2017 General Assembly, making changes to the VA Code to support improved children’s school based vision screening, and encouraged the development of a study with VCU to recommend VisioCheck as best-practice programming.
The scholarship fund is fully expended each school year to reach the maximum number of students possible. We are making great progress through the investments of those who believe that no child should unsuccessful in school simply because they need a pair of glasses. We hope you will be as inspired as we’ve been through people like Horst and Gloria, to make a difference. Become a member of our 2020 monthly giving Club. $20/month will provide Visiocheck programs to 2 full classrooms of students, finding more than 9 who need vision correction.
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As we march on to our 100,000th student served we’re taking a look back at some of the most pivotal moments in expanding technology based comprehensive children’s vision programs in Virginia. As Conexus was experiencing tremendous success in the Pre-K W.H.E.E.L.S program, our thoughts quickly turned to our partners in the public schools.
Conexus had long supported the vision screening needs in Virginia’s public schools and the idea of introducing technology to improve the process was exciting. In 2012 the Cameron and John Randolph Foundations jointly funded the first pilot initiative to test the Conexus technology based comprehensive children’s vision program in the public schools. Over the period of 45 days Conexus delivered the program to over 4,500 students in 20 schools in 6 school divisions across the tri-cities region, finding 27% of students with a potential vision problem. The program delivery was followed by a focus group of nurse participants for program evaluation and critique.
We learned two important lessons through this pilot: 1. Technology based comprehensive children’s vision programming could be successful in the public school population and 2. It would have a tremendous impact on effectiveness and efficiencies for schools and students.
We want to offer our thanks to both the Cameron and John Randolph Foundation for seeing the potential of using our experience gained from the W.H.E.E.L.S. program to grow and expand services to an even larger population. Virginia mandates the school based vision screening of more than 360,000 students annually. Cameron and John Randolph recognized the potential for not only their students but also saw the value in supporting the development of a program that could have statewide ramifications.
This pilot effectively launched Conexus programming into the public schools statewide and we are grateful for the vision of these two funders.