ALEXANDRIA, Va.—In January of this year, The Vision Council launched the Open Your Eyes Scholarship Program, through the Better Vision Institute, a 501(c)(3) charity designed to support high school students in marginalized communities throughout the U.S. who have an interest in pursuing a career in the optical industry. The program will support selected students through monetary scholarships to opticianry school, paid internships and mentorships.

Tarrence Lackran, director of programs and partnerships at The Vision Council, said, “Some of the communities we will be working with have a mean household income that is less than the average licensed dispensing optician’s salary. Therefore, the tools and skills this scholarship will provide have the potential to truly change some of these students’ lives. In addition, being able to bring professionals to our industry from diverse racial backgrounds will elevate our industry and fill the need for a more inclusive community.”

At the kickoff for the program in January this year, many Vision Council member companies donated auction items and experiences. Among those were the eyewear designers of the Council of Fashion Designers (edCFDA), including Selima Salaun, creator of Selima Optique, Christian Roth, Gai Gherardi of l.a.Eyeworks, Blake Kuwahara, Ahlem and Patti Perreira of Barton Perreira. Other gifts and special items were donated by CEV Eyewear, Marchon and Dragon Eyewear, Thelios, Safilo, Dr. Danielle Richardson of Optometrix in L.A., Anna-Karin Karlsson, Cazal, Jacques Marie Mage, Zyloware Eyewear, Prive Revaux, The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions.

Sales of a limited edition Maxwell x STATE frame, called Reunion, would donate a percentage of proceeds from the frame to the scholarship program, with a minimum of $5,000 being donated. And a special collab between @theopticalpoet (Lackran) and British firm Frame Chain donated proceeds to the cause.

Another Virtual Happy Hour in June raised funds for the Equal Justice Initiative and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance The week-long virtual auction featured donated gifts from companies AHLEM, Anna-Karin Karlsson, Barton Perreira, Blake Kuwahara, Cazal, Christian Roth, Jacques Marie Mage, l.a.Eyeworks, Morgenthal Frederics & Robert Marc NYC, Nico Roseillier, Rigards, Selima Optique, and Thierry Lasry. More industry players stepped up with program donations, among them MyEyeDr., National Vision, DeRigo REM, Luxury Optical Holdings, Salle Opticians and more.

As of this month, online applications for scholarships are now being accepted, with a deadline of July 1. Applicants will be notified by July 15. For the first round of scholarships for the 2021–2022 school year, eligible students must be interested in pursuing an Associates Degree in Ophthalmic Dispensing from either Georgia Piedmont Technical College or New York City Technical College. Scholarships will cover tuition and fees, and a $250 allowance per semester for books and supplies. Scholarships are renewable each semester upon successful completion of all course work and internship/mentorship requirements.

Additional questions can be sent to Lackran at