2021 Annual Fund

Your contribution to the Annual Fund supports the following programs:


As emerging leaders in the optics and photonics community, ambassadors share their experiences and perspectives with students and early career professionals. They provide career advice, technical knowledge and mentorship by serving as a traveling lecturer, supporting professional development events at local meetings and engaging with their communities.

In 2021, 10 new ambassadors will join the 49 others from the 2016-2020 classes. Like the 2020 ambassadors, they will leverage virtual engagement in the absense of in-person events.


The Innovation School

The Innovation School inspires the next generation of entrepreneurs and business professionals by providing attendees the opportunity to assess their interest in entrepreneurial ventures. The School is guided by Eric Koester, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Georgetown University.  Attendees participate in a fast-paced, immersive experience focused on product ideation, market research and problem-solution customer fit.  Content is supplemented by guest lectures from optics and photonics corporate leaders. 

The 2021 Innovation School was held as a virtual event on 05-09 April.


Training Science-Informed Public Policy Advocates

The foundation will offer 20+ early-career members a unique public policy learning experience focused on demonstrating the value of science-government interaction. These members will receive expert training on communicating with legislators and the general public about science in policy and society. They will then join other Optica members to meet with U.S. senators and representatives.

The 2021 program will be scheduled for the third or fourth quarter.


Student Chapter Special Program Grants

Student Chapters will receive grants from the Optica Foundation in support of professional development, education outreach and diversity and inclusion.


WiSTEE Symposium

The Optica Foundation partnered with Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Entrepreneurship (WISTEE) in 2015-2019, providing financial support for their annual meeting, which is focused on advancing the careers of women in optics and photonics. In 2016-2019, WiSTEE co-located their symposium with Frontiers in Optics (FiO), Optica’s Annual Meeting, attracting between 80 and 110 professionals interested in promoting gender equity in our field. The program features speakers and attendees from academia, industry and the public sector.

In 2021, we will resume the partnership with WiSTEE and the co-location of the symposium with FiO. 


Optics Suitcases

The Optics Suitcase is an innovative, interactive presentation package designed to introduce middle school students to the dynamic and exciting range of concepts within the study of light. Student and early career professional members use the kit as part of their community outreach efforts. Chapters will be able to apply for suitcases in 2021.


Diversity and Inclusion Recognition

The Diversity & Inclusion Advocacy Recognition serves to acknowledge the outstanding dedication and accomplishments of members, companies or organizations that demonstrate efforts to foster greater appreciation, advancement and celebration of diversity and inclusivity.


International Optica Network of Students (IONS)

Launched in 2007, IONS encourages student chapters to organize and manage regional meetings featuring technical and professional development content as well as networking with peers and luminaries. The experience and skills gained from the program include program development, speaker recruitment, attendee marketing, budget development and management for an event, overall logistics planning and sponsor engagement and fundraising.


Chapter Zoom Accounts

With the lack of in-person events, we are offering professional Zoom accounts to student chapters to alleviate challenges with time and attendee limitations and to enable access to virtual guest lecturers and other programs.


Additional Opportunities

Additional funding to be allocated throughout the year for unplanned opportunities.