David Flink has helped connect thousands of elementary students with learning disabilities with college-aged mentors who share similar difficulties through his non-profit Eye To Eye National

When David Flink was diagnosed with dyslexia in the fifth grade, he thought it was a rash. Did he need an ointment? Was he allergic to something? These are the questions he asked when he first heard the word. Before his diagnosis, he struggled in school, and more often than not found him and his desk put in the hallway after acting out during class. After his official diagnosis of ADHD and dyslexia, along with support from his parents, he was able to attend Brown University where he found other students like him, other students with learning disabilities who had struggled with school in the past. It was there that he and his newly found friends started Eye to Eye, a mentoring program for nearby elementary school students with learning disabilities. It was here when Flink learned the true power of nurturing those with learning disabilities. “All of a sudden, all this stuff that we thought was really taboo and doesn't sound good -- we discovered they were just words. Under all of that was potential."

Since its inception in 1988, Eye to Eye has blossomed into a nationwide non-profit organization that works to connect middle school students and college students who share similar learning differences. The 18-week program bolsters students' abilities to express themselves while working towards a learning goal, allowing them to move from self doubt to self confidence with regards to their learning. With nearly 2,000 mentee/mentor pairs, it’s safe to say that Eye to Eye has grown into something far more powerful than Flink and his friends were expecting when they created it. Additionally, 80% of Eye to Eyes mentees go onto graduate college, which is especially impressive considering students with learning differences are 3 times more likely to drop out of school. When asked what his hopes were for the children his organization helps guide, he says “I want them to know that their brains are beautiful. I want them to know that they can achieve anything. I want them to leave feeling like they know how to ask for what they need. And that they can do it.”

To read more about David Flink, Eye to Eye, and the ways in which students with learning differences across the country are finding their way, click here.