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Eye to Eye Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Civil Rights, Disabilities, Disabled Persons Rights, Education, Special Education, Youth Development

Mission: Eye to Eye's mission is to improve the life of every person with a learning disability. It fulfills its mission by supporting a growing network of youth mentoring programs for those with learning differences, and by organizing advocates to support the full inclusion of people with learning differences in all aspects of society.

Results: To date, our mentoring program has served over 3,100 LD/ADHD mentees and more than 3,100 mentors. Eye to Eye has 60 chapters located in 20 states. Overall, students in the program also demonstrated an increased knowledge of accommodations available in middle, or high school, as well as their availability in college. They also showed a positive integration of learning differences and their LD / ADHD label into their identities. 82% of mentees reported that their mentor was the kind of student they wanted to be and 87% of mentees reported that their mentors helped them to think about their future positively. 95% of mentors reported that because they felt like part of a real community, their self-confidence and self-esteem improved, as did their ability to self-advocate.

Target demographics: Students with learning and attention differences.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 1,400 students in our 60 chapters in 20 states.

Geographic areas served: Schools with the highest need across the country.

Programs: Our mentoring program pairs high school and college students diagnosed with learning and attention differences with elementary and middle school students who have similar labels. All the students participating in our programs have been diagnosed with some form of learning or attention disability, most commonly Dyslexia and/or ADHD. Using our arts-based curriculum, mentees discover creative communication tools that encourage social-emotional sharing with their mentors. Social-emotional learning is the process of recognizing strengths and areas of need, solving problems, making responsible decisions, setting positive and realistic goals, respecting others and having self-respect, as well as appreciating differences. Mentors are trained to share their stories and learning skills, showing mentees how to take charge of their unique learning styles with techniques including: self-esteem, metacognition, self-advocacy, and proactive learning strategies. We also operate a weeklong day camp in the summer for children with LD/ADHD not affiliated with a chapter called Camp Eye to Eye, which condenses these skill-building modules from our school-based program. Our direct mentoring approach is complemented by our broader reaching Diplomats Program, in which trained mentors and alumni of our programs form an inspirational speakers’ bureau, skilled at walking an audience through their journey with LD/ADHD while providing hope and practical tools on how different learners can reach academic and professional success. Diplomats are strategically deployed to schools, universities, and conferences to raise awareness, dispel stigmas, educate stakeholders, and advocate on behalf of those in the LD/ADHD community. The Alumni Program is designed to support Eye to Eye’s former mentors who have graduated college and are entering the workforce. We support alumni as they launch their careers through resume writing workshops, interview coaching, job placement partnerships, networking events, and more. This program resides in California which represents an active career corridor that we are engaging more deeply to build a strong community of empowered LD/ADHD professionals.

Community Stories

3 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an intern with Eye to Eye for 4 years. When I first discovered the organization, I had just been identified with dyslexia & ADHD at 18 years old. I felt lost & defeated. I thought my learning & attention issues were a huge deficit in my life. After just a few short weeks being embraced by the Eye to Eye community, I came to realize my learning & attention issues brought me many more strengths than struggles. Eye to Eye truly changed my life. This nonprofit has changed the lives of countless amounts of students & young adults. I feel honored to be a part of this amazing community.

Kara M.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a college student with ADHD, I know a lot of people understand my disorder to be embodied by that loud, impulsive class clown who probably was never on top of things academically, but that is not me; that is a stereotype based on a stigma.

Because February is #Strikeoutstigma month, I wanted to share just a little more depth about my experience with navigating life with a learning disability, and additionally featuring my take of what Eye to Eye has meant to me.

I always knew I learned differently, and at a different rate, but I had no idea how able I was! It’s been a long road of often taking a lot longer than my peers to master a skill, many repeated “could you explain that again please”s, unending grit, figuring out strategies to help myself understand things and learn, learning to not become discouraged when I ended up at the back of the pack, humbling myself enough to ask for help time and time again, and ultimately, self acceptance.

It would have been EXTREMELY easy for me to lose hope and motivation, to get lost in the shuffle, but I’ve made it further than I ever thought I possibly could, and it’s partially thanks to the support I’ve received from my family, friends, and teachers. Even before I got a diagnosis, a number of my teachers reached out to me, encouraging me to ask for help back when I wasn’t comfortable doing so, and giving me accommodations simply because they saw my potential and wanted to give me the tools I needed to succeed.

Although I had been recently diagnosed with my learning disability when I entered college, I didn't really understand what it meant and where it stood within my identity, and I felt rather alone. When I discovered that my university had a program called "Eye to Eye," which mentored younger students who have learning disabilities and did art projects with them, I was hooked! I loved art, and felt a mentoring experience would be enjoyable. I had no idea how much more than a partnership and literal art room Eye to Eye was.

Within my first semester, not only did I get to do fun art projects, but I became immersed in a community of people just like me. For the first time in my life, I met people just like me who had faced similar obstacles and continued to face similar obstacles but like me, found ways to persevere and really make it. We still to this day share our daily struggles of tackling college with learning disabilities and even exchange strategies for coping with our challenges, both socially as well as academically. These conversations are crucial to have and I have been blessed to not only share them with other mentors my age at Eye to Eye, but the mentees as well. They too are on their journey as LD students, and I have received extremely helpful tips and advice even from these kids who are nearly half my age! It has been a true breath of fresh air, and leaves me looking forward to attending art room each week.

Additionally, the mentees reminded me of a younger versions of myself and I longed to reach out to them and help them receive the community, support, and understanding that I had been lucky enough to receive in school. But even more, I wanted to be the role model for them that I had never had; proof to them that others with their diagnoses, who had faced their challenges, had truly succeeded and made it to an excellent, top ranked college.

Growing up, I often doubted my own potential because I never got to see people who I could identify with who would go on to do things like this- it seemed to me that everyone who got into top rank universities (like my life-long dream school and current school of attendance, UW-Madison) were top of their class, valedictorians who were probably involved in every student activity under the sun. It seemed so out of reach; a place not meant for people like me. Although I persevered through my challenges and made it to where I am today without such role models, I am so very proud to be a role model to offer hope and inspiration to the younger generation of brilliant students who learn differently.

So, looking back at my own journey, I am fervently passionate about striking out stigma and empowering the 1 in 5 who learn differently. It bothers me when people lament “ADHD is over diagnosed,” or “I wish I had some ADHD meds to get me through this paper.” Regardless of frequency of diagnosis, I believe it is crucial we reach out and support all those who learn differently and at different paces. Creating awareness and offering help to those who need it is a way to level the playing fields and help people like myself realize and seize their potential. I truly believe Eye to Eye is doing a tremendous job at doing all of these things. It both offers aid to people like me who have lived their lives learning differently, as well as the next generation who also lives this way, and finally, those who do not fall into these categories but need to be educated and made aware. I will forever be grateful for how Eye to Eye has offered me the opportunity to both serve others similar to me and find my identity with and among them as well (#LDProudToBe!) The more stories we share, the more we can understand and help each other and ourselves.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Eye to Eye is an amazing nonprofit. My first experience with their community was mere weeks into my freshman year of college. The bonds I made with my fellow mentors as well as my mentees helped to guide me throughout the rest of my time at the University of Pittsburgh.

Eye to Eye's program is based in the concept of leading by example. This meant that change and development was not only an outcome for mentee but mentors as well. Eye to Eye created an environment where I was not only proud to have dyslexia but I can see the strength in being a different thinker both in school and the office. Eye to Eye allowed us to create connection with middle schools in our area and start changing the conversation about what it means to have a learning disability for students, parents, and teachers. It was amazing the difference we saw in our middle school students over the course of a single year.

I am now in my sixth year as a member of the Eye to Eye community and it continues to provide support and encouragement to me as I move forward in my career. I look forward to remaining an active member of their community.

Comments ( 1 )

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EyetoEye 01/29/2018

Hi Mallory, Thanks for sharing your story! We appreciate all you have done as a member of our community! We look forward to many more years ahead! -Eye to Eye