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.
Conexus received a $25,000 award from the Community Foundation in support of VisioCheck delivery for the Richmond Mobile project. Richmond Mobile, a cornerstone project of the Kids 20/20 Campaign, will bring direct services to students in Richmond Public Schools while collecting data to support further project expansion. The Community Foundation is well known in the Richmond region for their commitment to improving communities, and Conexus is honored to have been recognized as an organization with the capacity to affect change.
The Robins Foundation has awarded $50,000 in total to Conexus to support the Richmond Mobile project. The Robins Foundation award will specifically be used to provide VisioCheck programming to over 15,000 Richmond school children throughout the 2017/2018 school year. VisioCheck delivery is step one in a two-step program to improve vision and educational outcomes for RPS students.
Students identified through the VisioCheck program as having a potential vision problem will be offered free onsite eye exams and glasses, if needed, through a mobile clinic operated by Vision To Learn, a national non-profit. The collaborative effort between Conexus and Vision To Learn is designed to eliminate untreated poor vision as a barrier to academic success.
Robins Foundation is a strong proponent of K-12 education in the Richmond region and Conexus is proud to have their support.
John Randolph Foundation awarded its latest grants on Thursday, July 20th in front of a crowd of 125 partners, donors, and grant recipients. Responsive grants totaling $403,369 from the Foundation’s Mission Fund were awarded to 17 nonprofits. Conexus was proud to be among one of the 17 recipients. Robin Mead accepted the award on behalf of Conexus. Funds will be used to provide VisioCheck to 35 schools in the 6 Divisions in the John Randolph service territory starting this fall.
On May 29,2015 Conexus was awarded a challenge grant in the amount of $114,500 from the Cabell Foundation. The award was a 1:1 matching grant, challenging Conexus to raise a matching $114,500 from a diverse range of supporters within one year of the award. Conexus was able to secure the final portion of the match in late April, completing the challenge requirement.
The capital funds raised through this effort have been and are being used to finalize the last portion of the office renovation, which included replacing one of the failing HVAC systems, purchasing additional technology for the field and back end office support, and adding a vehicle to our fleet, allowing us to replace an aging 1998 Ford van. Conexus is excited to expand Visiocheck and technology based programming into the community and use these resources to position the organization for next steps.
Conexus received a gift from the Coleman Hunter Charitable Trust as a match to the outstanding Cabell Foundation challenge award. The Coleman Hunter gift moves Conexus one step closer to finalizing the $114,500 match, with just a little over $19,000 still pending. Conexus is eager to close the gap and secure the much needed funding to purchase additional equipment, software, and technology upgrades and finalize the last few items on the renovations of the Conexus headquarters. If you are interested in making a donation to the Capital fund, please contact Tim Gresham at Tim@ConexusVision.org.
Dr. Bo Pegram, Conexus Board Chair, and Roxane Gilmore, Vice Chair, accompanied President and CEO Tim Gresham on a visit to Dr. Pat Robertson to share the exciting plans for Conexus programming and the impact on Virginia’s children. After learning more about our important work and organizational needs, Dr. Robertson made a very generous gift to support a $57,250 matching component to the Cabell Foundation’s $114,500 1:1 match, along with an additional $42,750 to support the production of a 30-sec. commercial, Eyes of the Future, which will demonstrate the significant value of good vision as it pertains to helping our children reach their fullest potential. Dr. Robertson’s very generous support will have a lasting impact on the work of Conexus as we work to expand our reach!