Stavros Niarchos Foundation Provides Support for the SUNY College of Optometry’s Growing Community Outreach


NEW YORK—The SUNY College of Optometry’s University Eye Center (UEC) will use a two-year, $200,000 grant, which was recently provided by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, one of the world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, to the Optometric Center of New York, the philanthropic arm of the College, to create and staff a full-time community outreach coordinator. The new coordinator will be responsible for managing and expanding the UEC’s network of ongoing relationships across the New York City community and beyond.

“Enhancing public health through education and service is part of our mission at the College,” said David A. Heath, OD, SUNY Optometry’s president. “We’re certainly grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for partnering with us in our effort to build on the success that we’ve had in caring for our community.”

The UEC has been steadily expanding its outreach programs in a variety of different ways recently. Last year, the clinic’s doctors and interns made more than 200 visits to individuals in Manhattan and Queens who are unable to leave their homes as part of its decades-long “Homebound” program. The College also established a partnership with the Bowery Mission last year to provide regular, free vision care to those served by the Mission in lower Manhattan. That program will expand to the Bowery’s East Harlem location this spring.

UEC doctors and practitioners also provided more than 1,100 individuals at various educational and community events throughout the city last year with vital, health-related information. Doctors, interns and staff also regularly examine individuals at free screenings in the UEC and throughout the community designed to detect a variety of ocular and systemic diseases. It was also recently announced that the College will manage the care at two vision centers at public schools in New York City which are being established later this year by the United Federation of Teachers and the global vision care nonprofit OneSight as part of an initiative known as “ProjectNYSee.”

In addition to maintaining the institution’s robust outreach programs, the community outreach coordinator will also focus on developing new and different avenues for providing a broad range of care to underserved members of the community. “We’re very excited by the opportunity that having somebody in this position will give to us in our ongoing effort to expand our outreach into the community,” said Richard Soden, OD, vice president for clinical affairs at the College and executive director of the UEC. “The care that we provide for our neighbors is an important service and I am pleased that this grant will enable us to expand on our already vigorous efforts.”