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National Institutes of Health
National Eye Institute
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NEI Names 2011 Healthy Vision Community Awards Recipients

April 18, 2011

Bethesda, MD – Working in Appalachia and Harlem, serving toddlers and seniors, the 2011 Healthy Vision Community Awards (HVCA) winners are committed to making eye health and vision priorities in their communities. HVCA, sponsored by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is a unique program that provides awards up to $10,000 to make a difference in communities across the Nation by supporting grassroots eye health education. This seed money supplies the spark that gets projects started, which are then sustained through community partnerships.

Past awardees attest to this. "To say that HVCA funding has benefited our children and families is an understatement. We've expanded screening and care management programs, and conducted significant community outreach. HVCA has enabled us to reach thousands of families with a lasting positive effect," said Holly Remer, executive director, Healthy Beginnings, Bend, Ore.

HVCA, established in 2003, is a federal program that provides funding directly to communities to improve eye health awareness. Seed money goes to nonprofit and community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement innovative programs or expand existing services to new groups. These types of organizations are often understaffed and underfunded, with little access to funding for education programs. Without HVCA, some would not have the resources to include eye health and vision in their existing programs. Others would not be able to reach and educate higher risk groups, such as people with diabetes and low-income earners.

"Through HVCA, NEI has forged a direct link to the grassroots level, which is where education can make a difference in peoples' lives by reducing the risk of vision loss and blindness," said Rosemary Janiszewski, NEI spokesperson for the HVCA Program. Selected projects focus on underserved populations, addressing health disparities and filling gaps in service for the uninsured, non-native English speakers, and others. "Many groups may be unaware of the importance of eye health and the risks to their vision, so it is critical to reach out and educate them on the need to protect their vision," noted Janiszewski.

Many HVCA projects target higher risk racial and ethnic groups. "We are very excited to receive funding to hire community health workers who will focus on eye health. This is a much-needed service for the migrant farmworker community and low-income Hispanic population in our area," said Dawn Wells, grant specialist, Tulare Community Health Clinic, Calif., a 2011 HVCA awardee.

Although HVCA is competitive, there are few restrictions on who can apply for the award. Nonprofit organizations, including CBOs, churches, schools, civic and fraternal groups, and local government health departments and agencies on aging, are eligible. Applicants must demonstrate sustainability of the proposed program after the funding ends through community collaborations.

Following are the 15 2011 HVCA recipients:

Visit www.nei.nih.gov/hvca for more information about the HVCA program and to learn more about these projects.

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The National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal governmentís research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit www.nei.nih.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.



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