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VSP Global Partners with Black Eyecare Perspective to Eliminate Inequities and Increase Representation of People of Color in the Eye Care Industry
RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. – With a commitment to further increase awareness about the optometric profession to minority communities, VSP Global® announced today, a multi-year partnership with Black EyeCare Perspective, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to redefining the color of the eye care industry 1% at a time. As a part of the partnership, VSP Global has signed the 13% Promise, an initiative to increase equity and representation of Black students in the eye care industry to better mirror the 13% of Black people in the current U.S. population.
According to data from Black EyeCare Perspective, only 1.8% of practicing optometrists are Black. Only 3.2% of enrolled students and 3.8% of faculty in optometry colleges are Black. These numbers underrepresent the 13% of Black people in the current U.S. population.
“As a company serving more than 80 million members who represent every demographic in the U.S., it’s vital that we support efforts designed to increase opportunity in optometry for underrepresented groups,” said Michael Guyette, President and CEO of VSP Global. “Empowering diversity is one of our core values, and our work with Black EyeCare Perspective is just one of the many ways we’re helping to create solutions that support our country’s diverse healthcare needs.”
In addition to signing the 13% Promise, the partnership will also include:
Annual scholarships for Black third-year optometry students.
Leadership development programs designed by VSP® and delivered by Black EyeCare Perspective to enhance personal and professional development opportunities for students.
Social media, marketing, and grassroots event outreach efforts to elevate and promote optometry as a career.
Mentoring programs to assist students and prospective optometrists in career planning, application support, networking opportunities and access to a variety of educational resources.
Active participation in Black EyeCare Perspectives’ Impact HBCU Program, including leveraging the VSP Eyes of Hope® mobile clinics to increase awareness of the profession at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) while providing no-cost vision care to the campus and surrounding communities.
“This partnership is critically important in addressing the need for more diversity and inclusion in our schools and colleges of optometry, especially among Black students,” said Dr. Essence Johnson, Black EyeCare Perspective Chief Visionary Officer. “Over the years, there has been little to no growth in the number of Black students in optometry schools. This partnership allows for increased awareness of the profession, mentorship, guidance, and a path forward for these students to realize their dream of becoming an optometrist and giving back to their communities.”
To learn more about VSP’s commitment to diversity, click here.
About VSP Global
At VSP Global®, our purpose is to empower human potential through sight. As the first and only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, this is what drives everything we do. For more than 65 years, VSP has been the leader in health-focused vision care. Every day, the people that power our complementary businesses (VSP® Vision Care, Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., Visionworks®, Eyefinity®, Eyeconic®, VSP Optics, and VSP Ventures) work together to create a world where everyone can bring their best vision to life. That means providing affordable access to eye care and eyewear for more than 80 million members through a network of more than 39,000 doctors. And it means expanding access to vision care to those disadvantaged by income, distance, or disaster. Through VSP Eyes of Hope®, more than 3.3 million people in need have received no-cost eye care and eyewear. Learn more about how we’re reinvesting in greater vision, health, and opportunities for all at vspglobal.com.
About Black EyeCare Perspective
Black EyeCare Perspective (BEP) was designed and created to cultivate and foster lifelong relationships between African American eye care professionals and the eye care industry. BEP is creating awareness and changing the narrative of the role of optometry from a profession, provider and patient perspective. BEP is creating brave spaces and facilitating courageous conversations within the eye care community through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. BEP is changing the mindset of the next generation of eye care professionals to impact the industry in ways we have yet to see. The Black Eye Care Perspective Pre-Optometry Club (BEPPOC) is the first nationally recognized pre-optometry club by the Associations of the Schools and Colleges of Optometry (ASCO) that was established in 2020 to ensure not a single, potential Black or African American student or optometrist is ignored, discouraged or disadvantaged. Nearing a membership of 100 Black future optometrists representing 54 unique undergraduate institutions, 15 being Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), 90% of the inaugural cohort matriculated into a school or college of optometry and was connected to over $100,000 in resources, scholarships and grants.
To learn more about Black EyeCare Perspective, their initiatives, BEPPOC and ways to support visit: www.blackeyecareperspective.com.