BOSTON—The New England College of Optometry (NECO) has announced that National Vision, Inc. donated $100,000 to establish a new scholarship geared toward first-generation students from under-represented backgrounds. Scholarships are part of a NECO’s broader effort to attract a more diverse student body, the company said in an announcement. Other efforts include expanding recruitment and ensuring that the NECO community is welcoming, engaging and inclusive. Last year, NECO was the first optometry school to sign on to the 13% Promise, a pledge led by Black Eyecare Perspective, which asks for greater equity and Black representation in eyecare companies, colleges of optometry and optometry boards of trustees.

Howard Purcell, OD, NECO president and CEO said, “The need is there and we’re pleased to have more individuals and companies join the effort to address a real issue of diversity in optometry. Diversifying the field starts at the education level and we thank National Vision for their generosity. Scholarships are an important way to make graduate school possible and potentially attract individuals who otherwise may not have considered optometry.”

Reade Fahs, National Vision CEO, said, “With 45 percent of optometrists in our network identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), National Vision is committed to creating a great environment for people of all backgrounds to practice optometry. This gift is a way to reduce barriers to success and broaden access to education for students from backgrounds that are sorely under-represented in optometry today, and an investment toward a more inclusive future for the entire optometric community.”