Lions, Special Olympics Extend Partnership

Two of the nation’s largest nonprofit organizations will expand a decade-long partnership aimed at improving vision for some of the world’s most marginalized populations.

Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) will renew a partnership with Special Olympics International (SOI), pledging $7.8 million over five years to expand the Opening Eyes vision screening program. The announcement was made today during the 96th annual Lions Club International convention in Hamburg, Germany.

“For many years, we have worked side by side in the field of vision care for those with intellectual disabilities, and we are so excited to expand the scope of our collaboration to meet additional needs in our communities,” LCIF Chair Tam Wing-kun said. “This expanded global partnership provides an opportunity for our members to engage in new service opportunities like hearing health, family support, inclusive sports, membership development and much more,” he said.

LCIF’s support for Opening Eyes has averaged about $1.1 million annually, totaling more than $15 million since the program’s inception in 2001. The new five-year commitment will “create leadership opportunities for athletes, increased health work of Special Olympics, conduct outreach to families for additional support and allow for both organizations to reach more young people through inclusive sports and advocacy programs.”

Past support has covered costs of the Opening Eyes program but expanded support will help in more areas where Special Olympics is in need of growth, and align with both organizations’ visions moving forward, according to a spokesperson.

The two organizations have screened more than 325,000 athletes, and provided 100,000 athletes with prescription eyeglasses since Opening Eyes was established. The expanded partnership will use the Opening Eyes model, with a focus on “creating additional health and social impacts that empower individuals with intellectual disabilities, their families and their communities.” Over the years, Lions has support the program with more than 20,000 volunteers in 80 countries.

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