In February, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation announced that ICO would receive a two-year, $230,000 grant in support of services provided at both the college and its community partners to meet the vision and eye care needs of underserved adults and youth. The grant will also support an evaluation study of the impact of vision care on student learning. The Fry Foundation supports Chicago-based organizations committed to improving conditions for the city’s low-income, underserved residents. Its funding areas are arts learning, education, employment and health.
“ICO is the only vision care grantee that we have,” says Soo Na, senior program officer at the Fry Foundation. “ICO has done an incredible job of expanding its vision care services through very innovative partnerships. Patients do not have to travel far for vision care services. They can receive services at either the community healthcare centers they go to for primary care, or at the CPS clinic. Service providers can coordinate medical care and vision care together. They share the patient healthcare outcomes through the EMR system.”
The relationship between ICO and the Fry Foundation began in 1989. Since 2011, the foundation has funded ICO at the level of $100,000 or more per year, in support of ICO’s partnerships with community healthcare centers and the Chicago Public Schools. In comparison, a typical grant from the Fry Foundation ranges between $20,000 and $50,000.
“The latest funding will assist in continuing efforts at our school-based clinic, including a new research component to help us affirm the impact on students’ school work following successful diagnosis, treatment and remediation of visual problems,” says Mark Colip, OD ’92, vice president for student, alumni and college development at ICO. “Another important new initiative is to increase community awareness of the importance of vision care and the availability of this care, regardless of ability to pay, at the Illinois Eye Institute.”
In the coming year, the Fry Foundation’s support will allow ICO to study correlations between vision care services and academic improvement by analyzing student academic data with the Chicago Consortium on School Research. ICO will also launch a public campaign on the importance of vision care, which, according to the foundation, could be pivotal in increasing access to vision care services in underserved communities.