PEOPLE VSP Global Partners With Black EyeCare Perspective, Signs Its 13% Promise Pledge By Staff Monday, November 22, 2021 12:24 AM RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif.—With a commitment to further increase awareness about the optometric profession to minority communities, VSP Global has announced a multi-year partnership with Black EyeCare Perspective, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to redefining the color of the eyecare 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 eyecare 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 percent of practicing optometrists are Black. Only 3.2 percent of enrolled students and 3.8 percent of faculty in optometry colleges are Black. These numbers underrepresent the 13 percent 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 under represented 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 health care 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.”More about VSP’s commitment to diversity is posted here.Black EyeCare Perspective (BEP) was designed and created to cultivate and foster lifelong relationships between African American eyecare professionals and the eyecare 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 eyecare community through diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 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 percent of the inaugural cohort matriculated into a school or college of optometry and was connected to over $100,000 in resources, scholarships and grants.