How One Philadelphia Foundation is Helping Uninsured Kids See More Clearly

Health grantmaking most often comes in the form of preventative care, training, and advocacy. Although mental health causes have been capturing the attention of health grantmakers more frequently, vision and dental health organizations often remain on the back burner. However, one Philadelphia funder, the First Hospital Foundation, is putting a high priority on the teeth and eyesight needs of young residents.

April 12th has been deemed Give Kids Sight Day in Philadelphia. Thanks to a grant from the First Hospital Foundation and support from the Willis Eye Hospital, Eagles Youth Partnership, and Thomas Jefferson University, uninsured children under 18 can receive free eye exams and two free pairs of glasses. The event is being sponsored by Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), which received a $35,000 grant from the First Hospital Foundation for this and other similar programs. PCCY is also using those recent grant funds to support its Give Kids a Smile Day and Child Health Watch Helpline (Read First Hospital Foundation: Philadelphia Grants).

“Too many children in our area are dealing with eye problems that are going untreated,” said Alex V. Levin, MD, MHSc, Chief of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Ocular Genetics at Wills Eye Hospital in written statement. “This affects their ability to learn. Through Give Kids Sight Day, we are able to give these children the vision care they need to improve their chances of succeeding in the classroom.”

But PCCY isn’t the only vision health organization that the First Hospital Foundation has been supporting lately. The foundation also recently awarded a $12,000 grant to the Salus University for The Eye Institute in support of eyeglasses for uninsured and underinsured children in Philadelphia Public Schools. With this grant money, Salus enlisted a team of volunteers to provide eye screenings and glasses to children to who need them, as well as ongoing follow-up care.

The First Hospital Foundation also regularly supports organizations that promote dental health for underserved populations. To provide dental care to low-income children and adults in the Philadelphia area, the funder recently awarded $20,000 to Phoenixville Healthcare Access, $20,000 to the Garces Family Foundation, $20,000 to ChePenn Health Services, and $25,000 to Kid Smiles.

Program support grants, general operating support grants, and multi-year grants are available to vision and dental health organizations in the Philadelphia area and the average grant is about $40,000. We’re expecting information about the 2014 grant cycle to be posted on the foundation’s website any day now since the next application deadline is set for July 31st.