SAN FRANCISCO—RestoringVision, supported by funding from longtime corporate donor, National Vision, Inc. (NASDAQ: EYE), is launching a new program this Native American Heritage Month to serve indigenous populations in the U.S. The initial program will reach 80,000 Native Americans across 10 reservations, tribes, and organizations in the U.S. with access to the vision services and eyeglasses they need to see clearly. The program will be implemented in partnership with Walking Shield, Inc., a California-based nonprofit organization with the mission to improve the quality of life for American Indian families by coordinating programs that provide shelter, health care, community development, educational assistance, employment development and humanitarian aid. RestoringVision’s programs will be implemented through existing health facilities located on the reservations.

“Indigenous populations are still today one of the most vulnerable, marginalized and underserved groups in the United States. This Native American Heritage Month, we are proud to expand our U.S. Program to reach indigenous people in need of critical vision services and eyeglasses,” said Pelin Munis, Ph.D., executive director of RestoringVision. 
“Access to vision services is not only important, it’s necessary as poverty rates soar to 25 percent across U.S. reservations, according to the National Community Reinvestment committee, and unemployment rates reach 85 percent in some locations, according to The Red Road. Limited funding for Indian Health Service prevents many people from accessing health services, including vision screenings and eyeglasses. With the support of National Vision, Inc., this new program will address inequities while reflecting RestoringVision’s values, especially translating empathy to action,” Munis said.
The annual yearly health coverage for a Native American is approximately $1,300 compared to about $7,000 for a prisoner in a federal facility, according to a recent NPR report. Through this RestoringVision-led program, increased access to vision services will improve education opportunities, productivity, and the health and well-being of Native Americans across the country, the organization pointed out.
Dr. John Castillo, executive director of Walking Shield, Inc., said, “Walking Shield, Inc. is honored to collaborate with RestoringVision on this most important effort in helping our Native American communities with this generous donation of reading glasses, technical resources and support. These glasses will help the people we serve by giving them the ability to see in order to read, write, and more. The increased access to owning a pair of reading glasses will leave a lasting impact in so many ways, but the most important outcome is it will improve the quality of life for our Native American populations."
RestoringVision is a global nonprofit dedicated to creating equitable access to vision services and eyeglasses for individuals living on less than $2 a day.