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Impact Story

Impact America - South Carolina

Setting Our Sights on Good Vision

Impact America – South Carolina uses AmeriCorps Members to provide comprehensive vision care to low-income preschool-age children and families.

About the Organization

Impact America’s mission is to enlist recent graduates and college students to address community needs. Impact America – South Carolina uses AmeriCorps Members to conduct service through its core programs, FocusFirst and SaveFirst, across South Carolina.

About the Grant

Impact America – South Carolina was awarded a grant in 2016 to expand two of Impact America’s signature initiatives: FocusFirst, a high-tech vision care initiative for low-income, preschool-age children and SaveFirst, a free tax preparation initiative serving low-income, working families, targeting those eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Why It Was Funded

It is well understood that poor vision can lead to substandard education, behavioral risks and low self-esteem. Screening children early for vision problems increases the opportunity to connect them with care to correct the problem and mitigate these negative impacts. Presently, it is estimated that only 20 percent of preschool age children in South Carolina receive vision screenings.

In just three years, Impact America – South Carolina has expanded its service area to 39 counties across the state.

Project Results

Over the three year grant period, 46,889 children were screened in childcare centers through FocusFirst, with 4,415 children (9.4 percent) failing and being referred to follow-up care through Sight Savers America.
During the 2017, 2018 and 2019 tax-filing seasons, SaveFirst prepared free tax returns for 2,791 families in Spartanburg, Orangeburg and Calhoun counties.

Ongoing Support

In 2019, the Foundation awarded Impact America – South Carolina another three year grant to continue to expand FocusFirst to all 46 counties in the state. Impact America – South Carolina will also work to determine the feasibility of expanding vision screenings to kindergarten classrooms to get a better understanding of when and if children in South Carolina are receiving vision screenings.