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Coherent Announces Support of DEI-Related Educational Initiatives Through HBCU/MIS and the Optica Foundation

PITTSBURGH, April 23, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Coherent Corp. (NYSE: COHR), a leader in materials, networking, and lasers, today announced a $500,000 sponsorship of two educational initiatives targeted to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in entrepreneurship, innovation, and advanced technology: the HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship & Innovation initiative by Leadership Needed Foundation and the Optica Foundation Amplify Scholarship for Black scientists.


The HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative by Leadership Needed Foundation aims to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority institutions (HBCU/MIs) in developing a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum that is particularly relevant in preparing African American and other minority young men and women to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and become leaders and entrepreneurs.

Founded in 1916, Optica is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students, and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s renowned publications, meetings, online resources, and in-person activities fuel discoveries, shape real-life applications, and accelerate scientific, technical, and educational achievement. Additionally, the Optica Foundation focuses on the next generation of innovators and technologists to cultivate a diverse workforce able to address global challenges. Each year, Black undergraduate and graduate students receive scholarships from the Optica Foundation to ease the financial burden of college, and other benefits including a one-year membership to Optica, access to mentors, and an invitation to the 2024 Amplify Optics Immersion Program.

On April 19, 2024, Dr. Vincent D. (Chuck) Mattera, Jr., Coherent’s Chair and CEO, spoke at the 2024 HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship and Innovation event at the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel in Atlanta. Dr. Mattera outlined Coherent’s commitment of funding, equipment, and expertise to the HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative and received the 2024 Outstanding Supporter of the HBCU/MI Award on behalf of Coherent.

“Potential is universal; resources are not,” said Dr. Mattera. “The single greatest privilege I have had in my career is helping develop talent. I have taught classes at an HBCU, and that experience reminds me that our greatest human talents are unleashed by giving free rein to imagination. It is our responsibility to help create opportunities for young people in love with discovery and possibility. We will work with HBCU/MIs and the Optica Foundation to expand the reach of the life-changing work they do. This is a major opportunity to strengthen America’s role in laser design, manufacturing, and applications.”

Coherent will work with the HBCU/MI initiative’s team to develop training programs for educators to build advanced degree and certification programs for laser technology. In addition to expertise, Coherent is providing $375,000 in funding and donations of equipment, supplies, and material to support the academic programs.

“CEO of HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Leadership Needed Foundation Dr. Mohammad Bhuiyan and Honorary Chair General Larry Ellis (Ret. U.S. Army) are very pleased with the partnership and positive support from Coherent Corp. and its Chair and CEO Dr. Chuck Mattera to help HBCU/MI institutions to become leaders in laser technology and provide a trained workforce that would be badly needed in the coming future,” said a spokesperson for HBCU/MI. “This partnership will not only help Coherent Corp. and HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship & Innovation achieve their respective goals but will also make a significant impact on national security.”

In addition, Coherent has pledged $125,000 toward the Optica Foundation Amplify Scholarship for Black scientists. Launched in 2021, the Amplify Scholarship is a global program that has awarded scholarships to 35 Black science and engineering students representing 21 countries. The notable year-over-year increase in applicants, including women, highlights the strong interest in photonics and optics among engineering students from underserved populations. Coherent’s support will enable the Optica Foundation to increase the individual scholarship awards from $7,500 to $10,000 and extend the financial foundation for continued scholarships into the next decade. Coherent is also a proud supporter of the Optica Women Scholars program.

“Coherent’s donation to our Amplify Scholarship reflects a mutual commitment to inclusion and excellence in photonics with the Optica Foundation,” said Eric Mazur, Optica Foundation Chair, Harvard University. “It supports emerging scholars, emphasizing the role of varied perspectives in driving innovation. This partnership aligns with our core values and fortifies the global optics and photonics community for the challenges ahead.”

“True leadership transcends profit margins and rankings; it is also measured by the opportunities we create and the futures we nurture to enable sustained technology leadership,” said Lisa Neal-Graves, HBCU Alum and Coherent Board Member. “Coherent is doing this today through our commitment to organizations that create opportunities for Black science and engineering students to pursue the lives they dream about, strengthen our workforce, and drive generational change through enduring educational programs.”

About Coherent

Coherent empowers market innovators to define the future through breakthrough technologies, from materials to systems. We deliver innovations that resonate with our customers in diversified applications for the industrial, communications, electronics, and instrumentation markets. Headquartered in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania, Coherent has research and development, manufacturing, sales, service, and distribution facilities worldwide. For more information, please visit us at

HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship & Innovation Initiative

The HBCU/MI Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative aims to assist Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority institutions in developing a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum that is particularly relevant in preparing African American and other minority young men and women to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and become leaders and entrepreneurs. The program aims to stimulate student interest in entrepreneurship and provide them with the experience of conceiving business ventures and preparing effective business plans. Additionally, it offers training and networking opportunities to existing businesses in the HBCU communities, enabling them to move to the next level and contributing to the reduction of the wealth gap. This initiative brings together HBCU/MI presidents/chancellors along with business, foundation, entrepreneurial, government, military, and other leaders to focus on the advancement of HBCU/MIs. Each year, the program selects a special theme to support HBCU/MIs. For more information, please visit us at

Optica Foundation

Established in 2002, the Optica Foundation carries out charitable activities in support of the society’s student and early career members. We cultivate the next generation of leaders and innovators as they navigate advanced degree programs and become active members of research, engineering, and business communities worldwide. The foundation also works to secure the endowments for Optica’s awards and honors programs. The foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. For more information, visit


Amy Wilson
Manager, Corporate Communications 

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Coherent provides support for HBCU/MIs and the Optica Foundation's Amplify Scholarship

Coherent announced a broad package of financial and material support for HBCU/MI and Optica Foundation targeted to workforce and skills development, and advanced degree and certifications for Black scientists in the field of photonics.