Nineteen homeless students from Spring ISD elementary, middle and high schools had their vision assessed and were fitted for prescription glasses thanks to a grant awarded to the district through the AASA-NJPA Helping Kids Program. The $2,000 grant came earmarked for use in purchasing necessities like food, medication, clothing and personal effects such as eyeglasses.

“These children’s need for eyeglasses directly impacts their ability to learn and make the most of their education, but it puts an additional financial burden on the family, one they may be unable to bear under the circumstances,” said Spring ISD Title 1 Coordinator Ambreen Ali, who worked together with school nurses and the district’s procurement services and transportation departments to arrange the trips to America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses at West Road Plaza. “This grant money allows us to meet the needs of these students without having to put any additional strain on their families.”

Identified through routine vision screenings at their campuses, the students were grouped by grade level and scheduled for visits to the doctor’s office, where their vision needs could be formally assessed. While waiting their turn to see the eye doctor and have their vision checked, the students gathered in the waiting area reading books, working on homework and class assignments, and picking their favorite frames from the selection available. Once the orders are filled, each student will have two pairs of glasses matching their current prescription.

“Unlike some of our other services, this wasn’t something I went looking for,” Ali said. “This was something that found us, an opportunity that arose to serve one more need of our students. I can only imagine what it would feel like not being able to see properly and not having access to eyeglasses. It’s an essential element in achieving the goals outlined in EVERY CHILD 2020, and I’m very pleased this grant was available and could be put to good use on behalf of our students.”

Spring ISD’s Department of Federal and State Programs regularly uses Title 1 funds to meet a variety of student needs, including cafeteria meals, immunizations, school supplies, personal hygiene products, transportation, and even – in some cases – assistance with student housing. However, eye care and prescription glasses are not services normally covered.

Launched in 2012, the AASA-NJPA Helping Kids Mini Grant Program is a joint effort of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) and the National Joint Powers Alliance (NJPA), a cooperative contract purchasing firm that works with government and education agencies nationwide.

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