2017 Fall Grants
The following programs were awarded grants as part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s 2017 Fall Cycle.
EDUCATION & EMPLOYMENT
Services for the Underserved, Inc. (SUS)
Veterans Education to Employment (VEEP)
Location: New York City
Services for the Underserved envisions a New York City where everyone enjoys a roof over their heads and a happy, healthy, life of purpose. Because employment is fundamental to helping the most at-risk veterans rise from poverty into rewarding and fulfilling careers, SUS addresses individual challenges with services that include housing and career counseling, financial guidance, and connections to high-quality education and training programs with real career paths. Veterans Education to Employment (VEEP) helps some of NYC’s most vulnerable veterans prepare for civilian employment, secure interviews, enter new careers, and subsequently follows up with additional necessary support to ensure individual success. This Bob Woodruff Foundation grant supports VEEP programming for post-9/11 veterans.
Bunker in a Box
While the Small Business Administration reports that 25 percent of transitioning veterans are interested in entrepreneurship, fewer than 5 percent post-9/11 veterans own their own business. Bunkers Labs provides critical skills, mentoring, and resources to service members and veterans motivated to become entrepreneurs. Veterans have been especially appreciative of the Bunker in A Box program, which provides service members and veterans with captivating, gamified entrepreneur training outside Bunker’s brick and mortar chapters. This grant from the Bob Woodruff Foundation will rebrand Bunker in a Box to Launch Labs, as recommended by an independent program evaluation. Additional enhancements include technical improvements; the addition of a cohort model, where veterans can learn with a peer group; and video clips of lessons-learned from prior “vetrepreneurs”.
Hire Heroes USA
Free Career Transition Assistance for U.S. Service Members, Veterans, and Military Spouses
Hire Heroes USA provides employment workshops, one-on-one personal employment coaching, and individual job placement assistance to transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses. Their approach is labor-intensive, personalized, and continues from point of contact until the client achieves employment. A grant from BWF will support a three-phase, high-touch career transition assistance program that helps individuals translate military experience into marketable skills and attain employment with an average starting salary of $50,000 per year.
Career Readiness Program
Location: New York City; National
The Four Block Veteran Career Development Program provides transitioning post-9/11 veterans with the essential tools needed to jumpstart civilian careers. The program empowers veterans to obtain competitive internships and full-time positions at companies or organizations that match their interests, attributes and strengths. Program participants receive one-on-one mentorship and weekly classroom instruction hosted by local corporations. Participating veterans benefit from the exposure to the corporate environment, and have higher employment retention rates than other transitioning veterans. The program’s success is underscored by the number of veteran alumni that return to mentor and support future Four Block cohorts. The Bob Woodruff Foundation grant will fund a full-time NYC director permitting Four Block to provide this valuable career development assistance to NYC veterans, and an alumni director who will provide support and evaluate retention rates, career growth and career satisfaction.
Workshops for Warriors
Advanced Manufacturing Training for Wounded Warriors, Veterans, and Transitioning Service Members
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Issue Area: Education and Employment
Advanced manufacturing provides exciting professional opportunities for veterans who do not aspire to a corporate workplace. The four to six month training program trains, certifies, and places transitioning military, wounded warriors, and low-income veterans into advanced manufacturing careers. Workshops to Warriors participants receive quality hands-on training and accredited STEM education, and earn third-party nationally-recognized credentials. The Bob Woodruff Foundation grant will rent industrial equipment for the workshops, and will contribute to instructor costs and veteran trainee lodging and stipends.
National Military Family Association (NMFA)
Military Spouse Mental Health Workforce Expansion
Frequent military moves, and the time and cost to acquire professional certification in each new location prevent many military spouses from serving in the mental healthcare field. Meanwhile, our nation is experiencing a national shortage of mental healthcare providers, and even fewer providers demonstrate cultural competency to serve the military and veteran population. This Bob Woodruff Foundation grant to NMFA’s Military Spouse Mental Health Workforce Expansion Program will direct military spouses to accredited, reputable schools; reduce their tuition, certification, licensure and professional costs; match them with the clinical supervision required for licensure; and connect them with professional peers and mentors who can help them navigate professional requirements and opportunities.
Pat Tillman Foundation
Tillman Scholars Program
The Pat Tillman Foundation provides high-performing military veterans and their spouses with academic scholarships, building a diverse community of leaders who want to continue their service and positively impact their communities. The Bob Woodruff Foundation grant will provide financial support to nine Tillman Scholars pursuing advanced degrees in health care and mental health services. This investment in these nine Tillman fellows will reap tremendous subsequent benefit as they complete their postgraduate education enabling them to provide professional care to other veterans suffering from the physical and mental wounds of war.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Disabled Sports USA
Community-based Adaptive Sports for Severely Wounded, Injured and Ill Service Members and Veterans
Physical activity is a key component of a full and healthy life. Disabled Sports USA, a nationwide network of 120-plus community-based chapters operating in 42 states, provides disabled individuals independence and confidence through sports and educational programs. Participating disabled veterans are twice as likely than their non-active counterparts to be employed, and attribute their workplace success to being physically active. A grant from BWF will provide adaptive sports training and opportunities for over 60 disabled veterans, and will train and certify 100 volunteer instructors in sports-specific injury prevention. BWF is proud to enable adaptive sports opportunities that provide physical fulfillment, independence, and cohesive team experiences to disabled veterans nationwide.
School for Volunteers and Nonprofits that Support Veterans
The Bob Woodruff Foundation is proud to continue our partnership with PsychArmor to expand and enhance the BWF-funded School for Volunteers and Nonprofits that Support Veterans. While many Americans are eager to assist Veterans, too many of these volunteers lack familiarity with military culture and the Veteran experience. This BWF grant will create a badging and certification process for those who complete PsychArmor courses. PsychArmor will also develop and maintain a registry of those badged volunteers and certified organizations, to indicate their level of education in military culture and Veteran-specific topics. PsychArmor will also implement a robust marketing effort to increase the visibility any awareness of the educational opportunities offered by this school.
Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association
Brainline: Treating TBI and PTSD
BrainLine Military is a user-friendly national website serving service members, veterans, caregivers, and family members who are caring for or living with traumatic brain injury (TBI) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A recent BWF grant permitted BrainLine to restructure and reorganize their website, improving access and ease of use. This BWF grant will improve BrainLine Military resources, materials, and content to provide military families with practical, concrete information and support for dealing with the social and emotional impact of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress. The BrainLine articles, expert advice, and personal stories of veterans and caregivers living with TBI address the need commonly expressed by this population: they feel alone and isolated and nobody around them really understands what they are going through. This investment also provides BWF an opportunity to link with, and disseminate information about, our community of partners.
Urban Justice Center – Veteran Advocacy Project
Vet Center Medical-Legal Partnerships
Location: New York City
The Veteran Advocacy Project (VAP) provides free civil legal services to low-income New York City veterans. The VAP addresses veterans’ legal challenges that, unresolved, might spiral into more significant individual crises. This medical/legal partnership is unique in that VAP partners with Vet Centers, rather than alternative VA hospitals and facilities. By doing so, VAP reaches veterans who are more likely to be distrustful of the government or who may not qualify for other VA services. A VAP advocate at each Vet Center will ensure efficient use of VAP’s legal resources to remove barriers to health care, appeal denials of benefits, prevent evictions, connect individuals to programs, and keep client veterans on a path to wellness. This BWF investment in public-private engagement between VAP and VA resources permits VAP to expand to three additional New York City Vet Centers, and will help ensure that an increased number of New York veterans receive the appropriate social services to remain on a path to wellness.
Sesame Street for Military Families: Caregivers
The approximately 1.1 million caregivers for post-9/11 service members and veterans are strikingly different from most caregivers, who predominantly serve elderly spouses and family members. The post-9/11 caregivers are often young themselves, are more likely to be caring for a child or a spouse in a relatively young marriage and may be providing that care for a young veteran with multiple challenges, to include TBI and other physical injuries, PTSD, and limited employment or educational options. While research, programs, and advocacy have focused on adult caregivers, the needs of young children in caregiving families are less frequently addressed. Children may also adopt caregiving roles that are surprising for their young age. BWF is thrilled to partner with Sesame Workshop, given their extraordinary history of addressing the developmental needs and milestones of all children, including military children. A BWF grant will permit Sesame Workshop to convene renowned experts, develop important content, and determine how best a Sesame Street program could address the needs of children in caregiving families.
REHABILITATION & RECOVERY
Peer Support Training Program and Evaluation
Location: Washington State
Growing Veterans empowers veterans to grow food, communities, and each other. They aim to improve veterans’ lives and mental wellbeing, and to end the social isolation that can have dire outcomes for veterans, by creating a national peer support culture and capability. Peer support is evidence-based and a mental health best practice. The Bob Woodruff Foundation grant to Growing Veterans will support four peer support sessions, producing a total of 60 newly qualified peer supporters, who will return to communities and serve approximately 1,500 veterans in need. Additionally, BWF’s grant will permit Growing Veterans to conduct an evaluation of their peer support program to confirm and improve its efficacy and develop an exportable curriculum.
Military Wellness Center at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute
Evidence-Based Therapy for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Location: New York City
The Military Family Wellness Center at Columbia University provides free, evidence-based clinical mental health treatment to veterans, active-duty service members, and their families. Dr Yuval Neria, the clinic director, is an esteemed clinician and research expert on epidemiological, clinical and neuroimaging studies in combat-related trauma and PTSD. Dr. Neria also has tremendous credibility with service members and veterans, given his own first-hand experience serving during the Yom Kippur War in the Israeli Army, for which he received the Medal of Valor, Israel’s highest honor for combat bravery. The Center especially seeks to treat those who do not qualify for, lack access to, or do not benefit from Veterans Affairs (VA) care, in order to address gaps in existing mental health services for the post-9/11 population of veterans. The Center specializes in the treatment of combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and also treats depression, anxiety, readjustment difficulties, and relationship problems, which are all linked to significant functional impairment. A BWF grant will permit the Center to treat 13 additional post-9/11 veterans suffering from PTSD and other mental health challenges related to their military service.