ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Vision Council, through the Better Vision Institute, is launching the Open Your Eyes Scholarship Program, 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. The intent of the program is to launch a far-reaching effort that can expand to other segments of the industry.

The Better Vision Institute is an Educational Foundation connected to The Vision Council. While largely inactive for the last several years, The Vision Council has continued to maintain the Foundation until it was needed. The Foundation will now be activated to make educational grants.

“We all take great pride in how much vision impacts lives, and this scholarship is an extension of that, showing how the vision community can impact lives, as well,” said Ashley Mills, CEO of The Vision Council. “With the support of the vision care community, we will provide deserving students with not only the resources, but also the tools, guidance and work experience they need to succeed. We invite the vision care community to help us reach our goal of raising $1 million dollars by making a donation. Together, we can launch the next generation of opticianry students.”

“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,” said Tarrence Lackran, director of Programs and Partnerships at The Vision Council. “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.”

To kick off the scholarship program launch, The Vision Council and the Better Vision Institute are hosting a virtual auction, featuring exceptional items and experiences donated by The Vision Council’s members. The auction starts today, Jan. 20 at 9:00 am EST and bids will be accepted until Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 6:30 pm EST, following a virtual happy hour hosted by Ashley Mills, The Vision Council’s CEO, during the organization’s 2021 Executive Summit.

Presented under the banner of “A Celebration of OPTImism,” the virtual happy hour will take place from 5:30-6:30 pm EST on Wednesday, Jan. 27 and will feature a surprise special guest appearance by a multi-Grammy-award winning artist.

To register for The Vision Council’s Executive Summit, click here

All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the scholarship program. To view the auction items and make a bid, visit here.

Auction items include:
Experiences, Food and Events: Personalized city experience and dinner with four designers at Vision Expo East 2021, donated by the Eyewear Designers of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (edCFDA). Experience includes four different city tours:
• Explore New York City with Selima Salaun, creator at Selima Optique
• Tour Miami with Christian Roth, founder at Christian Roth Eyewear
• Ride through Los Angeles with Gai Gherardi, co-founder at l.a.Eyeworks
• Enjoy the hot spots of the Northern California Bay with Blake Kuwahara, creative director at Blake Kuwahara Eyewear
One case of rare 2004 Allegresse Vineyards, donated by l.a.Eyeworks and Heather Gerardi
Four Tickets to a Dallas Cowboys home game and signed football from Jaylon Smith, donated by CEV Eyewear
• Fierce Clarity Group or Corporate Virtual Yoga Session,
donated by Dr. Danielle Richardson, independent optometrist at Optometrix
Surf lesson in San Clemente, Calif. and a Rob Machado-designed and signed surfboard, donated by Marchon and DRAGON

Fashion Items:
Loewe basket tote and acetate sunglasses, donated by Thelios
Jimmy Choo glitter clutch bag and sunglasses, donated by Safilo
rag & bone crossbody bag and sunglasses, donated by Safilo
kate spade new york Toujours crossbody bag and sunglasses, donated by Safilo
Marc Jacobs “The Pictogram” backpack and sunglasses, donated by Safilo
Vintage beaded dress by Valentino, donated by Selima Optique
Couture Escada gown, donated by Selima Optique
Vintage 1980s Saint Laurent bag, donated by Selima Optique
SPYDER ski apparel package, including skis, outfit and sunglasses, donated by Marchon

Five-night hotel stay during Vision Expo East 2021 or Vision Expo West 2021, donated by The Vision Council and Reed Exhibitions
Two-night hotel stay and one complimentary registration for The Vision Council’s 2022 Executive Summit, donated by The Vision Council

Limited Edition Artwork:
• “The Origin of Cotton” Jean Michel Basquiat photographed by Edo Bertoglio, donated by Christian Roth, founder at Christian Roth Eyewear
2016 Untitled Collage, donated by AHLEM Eyewear
Painting by Gino Perez, titled “Animals in the Jungle a Metaphor,” donated by Patty Perreira, co-founder at Barton Perreira Eyewear
Dolph Lundgren photographed by Greg Gorman – Autographed, donated by l.a.Eyeworks and Greg Gorman, photographer

Celebrity Memorabilia:
Basketball autographed by Shaquille O'Neal with display case, donated by Zyloware Eyewear
Six pairs of Prive Revaux x Disney Pixar SOUL eyewear with cases autographed by Jamie Foxx, donated by Prive Revaux

To contribute to the scholarship program directly, contact Tarrence Lackran, director of partnerships and programming at The Vision Council, at

For more information and updates on the Open Your Eyes Scholarship Program, click here.