South County EDC Celebrates Optical Training Program Graduation

The career-training program, at no cost from a Chula Vista Charitable Foundation grant, furthers SCEDC’s mission for inclusive growth in the South County community

On May 9, South County Economic Development Council (SCEDC) celebrated the graduation of the “I Can See My Future” Optical Training Program at Sweetwater High School in National City.

SDEDC graduatesBack in November, SCEDC presented a new career-training program to Chula Vista residents at no cost through a grant from the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation (CVCF). The “I Can See My Future” training program was created to open a pathway to the optical industry for those looking to begin or continue their career. The program provided Chula Vista residents with an opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge to pursue careers in the eye care and optical field.  

Yesterday, the 41 “I Can See My Future” graduates celebrated the successful completion of a 75-hour training program that lasted from November 2018 to May 2019.

“Although we are presented with many quality applications for funding each year, the Chula Vista Charitable Foundation selected the ‘I Can See My Future’ optical training program as a truly outstanding job training opportunity for the citizens of our community,” said Lisa Moctezuma, President of CVCF. “Our greatest challenge is to find the most innovative, effective programs that have the greatest potential to ‘move the needle’ on our chosen funding focus, which was economic development.”

CVCF strives to leverage philanthropy through collective giving to strengthen economic development in the Chula Vista neighborhood. CVCF is supported by local philanthropists and businesses dedicated to improving the quality of life and meeting emerging needs in Chula Vista.

The program would not have been possible without the help of the project’s partners: America’s Job Center of California, Augen High Definition Lenses, Center for Employment Opportunities, the Employment Development Department, Pack & Bianes Vision Care Optometry, PCG Human Services, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and Southwestern College.

SDEDC graduates“The Workforce Partnership was excited to support this program because it filled gaps in training that are needed by this community,” said Angel Stancer, San Diego Workforce Partnership Manager of Business Partnerships. “As we learned through our research, Ophthalmic Technicians and opticians show growth projections of 8% and 15%, respectively. Without training providers in the region producing completers, San Diego will not be prepared to meet these market demands. South County EDC saw this opportunity to support this hole in our local economy, and we are a proud partner in this endeavor!” 

The program has already received positive feedback from local experts in the optical industry, thus proving the success and need that this program has in Chula Vista and San Diego as a whole.

“We were honored to participate on the advisory board of the ‘I Can See My Future’ optician training program,” said Drs. Pack and Bianes from Pack & Bianes Vision Care. “As owners of private practices in the South Bay, we were excited to help educate and train a workforce desperately needed in this growing industry. We anticipate many of the participants will have employment opportunities awaiting them upon completion of their program.  We’ve already hired one of the graduates!” 

“As a business owner in the optical industry, we struggle to find new employees with an optical background and training new employees with no optics knowledge is not very cost effective as it takes much longer,” said Patricia Machado, President and COO of American Sunglass Manufacturing. “I would much rather hire someone that has taken this class before and has some knowledge of optics.”

SCEDC is proud of each one of the graduates and is proud to be part of an initiative providing resources to the community not only for personal benefits, but to advance the community as a whole. “SCEDC wants to continue to expand upon inclusive growth in the community—that is advancing equitable opportunities where economic benefits, new opportunities and growth is for all,” said Cindy Gompper-Graves, CEO and President of SCEDC.

“The South County Economic Development Council is an organization who has a history of not only successful economic development strategies, but they ‘finish the job’ with successful results,” said Moctezuma from CVCF. “We were proud to award funding to SCEDC, as we were confident that the sound program and the sound partnership with SCEDC would truly maximize the impact of our charitable giving. Mission accomplished, thank you, SCEDC, and thank you, successful students.”