The following programs were awarded grants as part of the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s second 2020 Expedited Grants Portfolio, addressing urgent needs related to COVID-19. Click here to learn about our previous grant cycles.
URGENT NEEDS AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Emergency Services for Vulnerable Veterans and Families
Service Area: Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Hawaii
U.S.VETS works to ensure the successful transition of military veterans and their families by providing permanent and transitional housing, counseling, career development, and comprehensive support. More than 4,000 of the veterans U.S.VETS serves nationwide live in scattered sites outside the primary U.S.VETS residential facilities, and face unique challenges to navigating the landscape of veterans’ services. The economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the social distancing mandates have left veterans facing increased unemployment, financial distress, and disrupted access to basic needs such transportation, food, and mental health services. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant will fund direct assistance, staff time, and telehealth equipment to increase U.S.VETS’ capacity to serve veterans living outside their residential sites. This grant will ensure that at least 3,000 veteran and military households in Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Hawaii receive comprehensive supportive services, including financial relief, housing and transportation assistance, case management, and employment and mental health services.
Arizona Coalition for Military Families
Service Area: Flagstaff, Arizona
Arizona is home to over half a million veterans, service members, and their families. With 27.5 percent of the workforce employed in five key industries likely to be most affected by COVID-19, BWF recently highlighted Flagstaff as one of 15 communities facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic. From March 15 to June 2, 2020, over 600,000 new unemployment claims were filed across the state. The Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona has been hit especially hard by COVID-19, and by the end of May had the highest infection rate per capita in the United States, surpassing New York and New Jersey. The Arizona Coalition for Military Families is a collective impact initiative, and a BWF Local Partner, working to build Arizona’s capacity to support veterans, service members, and their families statewide. The Be Connected program uses an upstream approach to address social determinants of health to prevent crisis and suicide. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community (HLCC) grant will provide financial relief to 100 veterans living in Flagstaff, the Navajo Nation, and the surrounding communities, ensuring that they sustain housing and access to basic needs such as food, firewood, transportation, and medicine.
Volunteers of America Florida, Inc.
Emergency Needs for Veterans
Service Area: Florida
Volunteers of America of Florida has provided VA Transitional Housing (Grant and Per Diem or GPD) throughout the State of Florida for over 20 years. On a daily basis, they engage 384 homeless veterans who are coping with mental health and co-occurring substance use issues spanning more than 6 VA Medical Center areas from Pensacola to Key West. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the vulnerable veterans they serve. This NFL-BWF Salute to Service will enable Volunteers of America Florida to address the negative effects of COVID-19 on veterans and veteran families by providing a combination of emergency financial relief, housing, and case management services to over 500 veterans.
People Assisting the Homeless (PATH)
Service Area: Los Angeles, California
PATH’s mission is to end homelessness for individuals, families, and communities by building affordable housing and providing supportive services throughout California. Veterans experiencing homelessness have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as many social services were forced to cease operations due to the need for social distancing. This disruption in services has severed veterans’ connection to their community and to important resources. This NFL-Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) partnership “Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community” grant will improve the wellbeing of up to 60 post-9/11 veterans by cultivating social connectivity and community through technology, and by providing emergency financial assistance to veterans in-need.
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
COVID-19 Relief for Wounded, Ill, and Injured Service Members
Service Area: National
While our nation’s veterans and their families are facing many of the same challenges as other Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, their difficulties are often exacerbated by issues related to their military service. An increasing number of veterans are facing unemployment, limited access to medical care and personal necessities, and increased social isolation. The combination of these issues can culminate in a situation that threatens the mental and physical health of our veterans, especially those with pre-existing conditions, such as physical disabilities, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and life-threatening illnesses. Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund currently has close to 1,000 service members living in communities identified by BWF to be home to veterans disproportionally affected by the pandemic. This BWF grant will support Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund’s emergency financial relief efforts for veterans living in those communities.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation (PenFed Foundation)
COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program
Service Area: National
The PenFed Foundation empowers veterans, service members, and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity. In our recent research paper, BWF found that before the COVID-19 pandemic, over one-third of post-9/11 veterans reported challenges paying their bills in their first few years after leaving the military, and according to a U.S. Census Bureau study in 2017, half of veterans between the ages of 25 and 54 have less than $3,000 to $4,000 total in their bank accounts. These pre-existing financial concerns, combined with the loss or reduction of income due to COVID-19, leave low- and moderate-income veterans and military families particularly vulnerable to financial instability and crisis. The PenFed Foundation received over 6,000 applications for rent, mortgage, auto loan, and utility assistance within 4 days of opening their COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief program, indicating an overwhelming and ongoing need in the military veteran population. This BWF grant will provide emergency financial assistance to ensure that 18 post-9/11 veterans experiencing lost or reduced income due to COVID-19 sustain housing and meet their basic needs through the crisis.
The Independence Fund Inc.
Service Area: National
The Independence Fund (TIF) serves catastrophically wounded, ill, and injured (WII) veterans, their caregivers and families. TIF’s programming builds social connections for veterans, caregivers and their families to maintain the sense of community, prevent loneliness and isolation, and combat challenges our WII veterans face on a daily basis. The financial assistance provided through Independence@Home will support mortgage/rent, utilities, childcare, transportation services, home WIFI services, household cleaning and upkeep, grocery and medical product delivery, and streaming services for work and learning for catastrophically WII veterans, caregivers, and their families across our country who are struggling financially during the pandemic. This BWF grant will decrease financial stress for 19 veteran households during COVID-19.
Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW)
Mission United COVID-19 Recovery Fund
Service Area: Orlando, Florida
Florida has one of the highest veteran populations in the United States, with more than 100,000 in the Orlando tri-county area. With 281,941 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector, the Orlando metropolitan area is also one of 15 communities cited in BWF’s research paper, “Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans,” as facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic. The Heart of Florida United Way’s (HFUW) Mission United program is a collective-impact initiative, and BWF Local Partner, that provides case management and direct assistance in housing and employment to ensure that veterans and their families maintain stability while seeking additional services. Since March 2020, HFUW has received quadrupled requests for assistance. This NFL-BWF Healthy Lifestyle and Creating Community grant will support HFUW’s Mission United COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and provide rent, mortgage, and utility assistance to at least 20 post-9/11 veterans who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This assistance will ensure that veterans remain stably housed through the crisis without accumulating debt from housing and utility payments.
Capital Area Food Bank Inc.
Providing Meals for Food Insecure Fort Belvoir Military Families
Service Area: Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
The Capitol Area Food Bank believes that everyone deserves access to good, healthy food in every community. The food insecurity rate in the Greater Washington area is 8.1 percent, however the food insecurity rate among military personnel and veterans is often double that of the general population. Military spouse employment lags far behind their counterparts, and the pandemic has further disrupted many military families’ second income. The Capitol Area Food Bank works with coordinators on Fort Belvoir to provide emergency food boxes. With this BWF grant, the Capitol Area Food Bank will supply 225 military families with emergency food boxes, which equates to about 6,000 meals.
Inner City Law Center
Homeless Veterans Project Medical-Legal Partnership
Service Area: Los Angeles, California
Inner City Law Center’s (ICLC) Homeless Veterans Project Medical-Legal Partnership (MLP) at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center is an innovative, multi-disciplinary clinic providing effective, holistic healthcare to Veterans experiencing homelessness and addressing the health-harming legal needs of many homeless Veterans. ICLC’s MLP is a part of the VA’s Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team (H-PACT), which, in addition to lawyers from ICLC, includes primary care doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, nursing staff, and patient advocates. Los Angeles has the unfortunate distinction of having more homeless veterans than anywhere else in the nation, and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority documented a 12 percent increase in homelessness in 2019, with nearly 59,000 people experiencing homelessness every night. The COVID-19 pandemic presents an additional crisis, severely impacting the health and safety for veterans experiencing homelessness. This BWF grant will enable ICLC to provide civil legal aid for veterans served by the West LA VA Medical Center, to address social determinants of health and decrease barriers to secure housing.
Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma
VAMC MLP and Legal Services for Veterans
Service Area: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Devastation of the oil and gas industry, vital to Oklahoma, has resulted in high numbers of veterans unemployed. Simultaneously, anxiety over how to pay rent or mortgage, how to pay consumer debt, and how to feed a family threatens the wellbeing of those affected. In worse case scenarios, legal issues such as eviction, foreclosure, and debt collection will have long-term repercussions if not addressed swiftly and effectively. This BWF grant will fund an attorney who will provide civil legal aid at VAMC MLPs and across the region to stabilize veterans and their families impacted by the pandemic. LASO attorney will work to negotiate with landlord or mortgagor, enforce CARES Act protections, enter into agreements of forbearance or repayment for additional time to settle debts, and assure eligibility for other sources of income and support through unemployment insurance, pandemic unemployment assistance, stimulus funds, SNAP, VA, and Medicaid.
Southeast Louisiana Legal Services
COVID-19 Veterans Legal Advocacy Project
Service Area: Houma, Louisiana
The Houma-Thibodaux communities of coastal Louisiana are home to almost 9,500 veterans and a workforce that relies on industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Southeast Louisiana Legal Services (SLLS) is the largest nonprofit civil legal aid provider in Louisiana with 105 staff members from six offices serving 22 parishes, and 50 percent of the state’s low-income population. SLLS has developed significant experience over the past 15 years from responding to the immediate and long-term impacts of 10 presidentially declared disasters including Hurricane Katrina, the 2008 Economic Crisis, and the 2010 BP Oil Spill. With a BWF grant, SLLS will provide civil legal aid to stabilize veteran and their families during the pandemic and its long aftermath.
Services for the Underserved, Inc. (S:US)
S:US’ Veterans Services and Supportive Housing – COVID-19 Response
Service Area: New York City
The nearly 3,000 veterans and their families S:US serves are among the most vulnerable in NYC, and are often experiencing the greatest barriers to independence and full community integration. The social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home order imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken an especially heavy toll on this population. While S:US’s supportive housing for low-income, formerly homeless veterans, normally emphasizes socialization via communal spaces and support groups, these activities have had to halt and thus limited veterans’ connection to a supportive community. Additionally, as COVID-19 has severely impacted the job market nationally, employment support is more important now than ever. S:US remains committed to helping some of NYC’s most vulnerable veterans prepare for civilian employment, secure interviews, enter new careers, and follow up with additional necessary support to ensure individual success. This NFL-Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) partnership “Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community” grant will improve the wellbeing and employment status of at least 175 post-9/11 veterans by safely providing PPE, connection to mental health services, opportunities for social connection, and employment support.
Transitional Living for Veterans
Service Area: Houma, LA
The Houma-Thibodaux communities of coastal Louisiana are home to almost 9,500 veterans and a workforce that relies on industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In early May 2020, Louisiana State University’s Blanco Public Policy Center reported that the Houma-Thibodaux area’s unemployment rate was 18.3% with forecasts predicting it will rise as high as 25% to 30% as the pandemic drags on through the summer. As the community braces for the sustained economic strain from the shutdown of the economy, the most vulnerable veterans with multiple barriers to housing and self-sufficiency including those with complex medical illnesses, serious mental illness, substance abuse and addiction are at risk of losing the vital services necessary to continue their transition into a healthy home. With an NFL-BWF grant, Start Corporation’s Transitional Living for Veterans program will support 20 veterans experiencing homelessness and assist with their benefit management, reconnecting with family supports, and metal health and substance abuse treatment.
Swords to Plowshares
Supportive Services for Homeless and Low-income Veterans
Service Area: San Francisco Bay Area
Swords to Plowshares provides critically needed services to nearly 3,000 homeless and extremely low-income veterans each year. Almost half of the veterans they assist have service-connected disabilities, and many more are only one missed paycheck away from homelessness. The COVID-19 health crisis has increased the health, housing, employment, and food needs of already vulnerable veteran families. An NFL-BWF “Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Communities” grant will ensure that services continue safely and allow Swords to Plowshares’ COVID-19 response to support and protect the 500 veteran residents in their supportive housing programs. The program will continue to provide 24/7 care in case of health crises or emergencies and continue to offer in-person mental health services and provide meals for their transitional housing residents, employing social distancing and masks for safety during one-on-one sessions.
Rutgers University Foundation
Service Area: National
Vets4Warriors provides critical “upstream support” to veterans and their families so they receive necessary services (emergency financial aid, connection to mental healthcare, peer support, etc.) before they reach the point of crisis. Every call, text, and email from a veteran is answered by Vets4Warriors peers, who are all veterans, military family members, or caregivers. The shared experience of military service allows peers to deepen the trust and to bond with veteran participants. Peers work with participants to identify and make progress toward achieving life goals such as pursuing education, improving family dynamics, and accessing mental health services. This BWF grant will support Vets4Warriors’ peers’ salaries so they can continue to provide essential support to veterans and their families, especially those who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Research Foundation of the City University of New York on behalf of Hunter College
Project for Return and Opportunity in Veterans Education (PROVE)
Service Area: New York City
PROVE ensures student veterans on City University of New York (CUNY) campuses have a successful educational journey by aiding them in their transition from the military to a college community. PROVE’s social work interns and experienced field instructors provide high-touch social and emotional support for student veterans as well as short-term crisis intervention and mental health counseling and targeted, well-vetted referrals. Concurrently the PROVE program trains those social work interns in the specific needs and concerns of the modern-day student veteran, and thus increases the military cultural competency of upcoming professional social workers. PROVE’s intervention is especially important in the context of COVID-19, as many student veterans have experienced increased stress levels related to their education, loss of income, challenges accessing technology and internet, and increased feelings of social isolation. This NFL-Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) partnership “Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Community” grant will fund the critical operations of the PROVE program at 7 NYC campuses allowing PROVE’s social work interns and field instructors to foster a supportive community for student veterans throughout the NYC area.
High Fives Foundation
High Fives Foundation Virtual Workouts for Veterans
Service Area: Truckee, California
High Fives Nonprofit Foundation, located in Truckee, California works closely with local disabled veterans by facilitating their rehabilitation. High Fives Foundation is passionate about empowering individuals who have suffered a life-altering wound or injury by providing them with opportunities to engage with other like-minded individuals who face similar obstacles through a common love of outdoor adventure sports. With COVID-19 facility closures, the veterans High Fives usually serves are isolated at home, unable to access the services that help them to improve, maintain and restore physical strength and cognition. This BWF grant will support a virtual workout program to provide veterans who are isolated at home with opportunities for physical and rehabilitative training.
Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Respite/Back-up Care for Military and Veteran Caregivers
Service Area: National
In the months since the COVID-19 crisis broke across the United States, Americans across the nation have made significant changes to their daily lives to mitigate the risks of the virus spreading further. Many caregivers support veterans with serious wounds, injuries, and illnesses who are more vulnerable to complications as a result of COVID-19, have been disproportionately affected by this current crisis. Even before the COVID crisis, caregivers had a critical need for affordable respite care to manage their caregiving responsibilities. COVID-19 has worsened the circumstances of caregiving, as many families have lost the assistance from friends or loved ones during the shutdown and social distancing. The Elizabeth Dole Foundation is dedicated to empowering, supporting, and honoring our nation’s 5.5 million military caregivers; the spouses, parents, family members, and friends who care for America’s wounded, ill, or injured veterans. With this BWF grant, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation will provide 800 valuable hours of respite and back-up care for military and veteran caregivers impacted by COVID-19, to decrease caregiver stress and anxiety.
EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT
American Corporate Partners (ACP)
Veteran Mentoring Program
Service Area: National
Approximately 200,000-250,000 service members transition from the military each year, and nearly all of these individuals will be in search of a job. BWF cited in our recent research paper that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States had experienced the lowest veteran unemployment rate in 19 years, at 3.1%. However, public health strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 have resulted in widespread layoffs and furloughs, leaving transitioning and newly unemployed veterans facing a much more challenging job market. Between mid-March and early June of 2020, 42.6 million jobless workers applied for state unemployment aid in the United States. With increased demand for jobs and a decreased supply, transitioning veterans will be especially challenged to secure jobs that match their experience and skills. ACP’s Veteran Mentoring Program provides customized, year-long career mentorships for post-9/11 veterans as they transition from the military into civilian life. This grant will fund 25 year-long mentorships partnering post-9/11 veterans and military spouses with corporate professionals to provide peer support, improve job-seeking skills, and veterans to better translate their military experience into civilian terms. This one-on-one guidance will give veterans and military spouses the skills, confidence, and support to navigate their transition to civilian life and employment through this challenging time.
Employment and Supportive Services
Service Area: South Carolina
Over 137,000 veterans live in the counties served by Forces United, including nearly 40,000 veterans in the Myrtle Beach-Conway area. BWF recently identified Myrtle Beach-Conway as one of 15 communities facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic, with more than 29 percent of the workforce working in five key industries that have faced significant layoffs and furloughs due to COVID-19. As a member of the SCServes network, ForcesUnited provides and coordinates care across multiple areas of need to serve veterans and their families holistically. In the wake of COVID-19, ForcesUnited anticipates seeing a 20-30 percent increase in veterans seeking assistance in employment, housing, benefits, and more. This grant will provide at least 125 South Carolina veterans with a combination of employment services, wrap-around support, and housing assistance. This comprehensive approach will improve veterans’ ability to find and sustain employment, identify and address barriers to employment such as transportation, childcare, food insecurity, and professional attire, and ensure that veterans at risk of homelessness remain stably housed.
Peer-to-Peer Career Readiness Coach Program
Service Area: National
FourBlock partners with top companies across the country to provide student veterans a semester-long program, developed in partnership with Columbia University, that permits veterans to explore prospective career paths and build networks and connections within those career paths. Each cohort has a Peer-to-Peer Career Readiness Coach has completed the FourBlock curriculum and helps fellow veterans maximize their time in the program. This BWF grant will formalize the training for coaches and provide the technology and communication infrastructure necessary to follow-up with program participants during COVID-19 and measure the program’s impact. These coaches will serve 250 veterans across programs in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Antonio, Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa, Orlando, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Virtual Academic Boot Camps and CCOI Workshops
Service Area: National
Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) empowers enlisted veterans with skills that enable a successful transition from the battlefield to classroom communities. WSP’s innovative, veteran-led and delivered service model ensures that student veterans are mentored, academically challenged, and equipped with the critical thinking, reading, writing, analytical, and collaborative skills to navigate the cultural shift from active duty military service to academia. 62% of veterans who engage in WSP programs are first generation college students, and benefit from cultural integration strategies and mentoring that support a healthy transition to an academic environment. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WSP pivoted to stand up a remote program delivery model that guarantees the safety of staff, student veterans, instructors, and collaborators. A NFL-BWF “Healthy Lifestyles and Creating Communities” grant will support 88 veterans in WSP’s Academic Boot Camp program and 40 veterans in their Community College Outreach Initiative be prepared to make a healthy transition into academic communities by providing a skills based curriculum that teaches veterans to be informed consumers of education and increases their confidence to complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program.
REHABILITATION AND RECOVERY
Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP)
Service Area: Georgia and the Southern United States
Emory Healthcare Veterans Program (EHVP) treats conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), anxiety, and depression related to military service. EHVP’s highly skilled team includes specialists in psychiatry, neurology, neuropsychology and social work. For many service members and veterans, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health symptoms by increasing their feelings of isolation. Yet, many healthcare providers are limiting access to, and/or overwhelmed by, COVID-19 patients, and some veterans and service members are unable to attend in-person mental health appointments to address their conditions. COVID-19 has become another barrier preventing service members and veterans from seeking vital help. With this BWF grant, EHVP will provide virtual evidence-based therapy to improve mental health outcomes for 30 individuals living in Georgia and the Southern United States who are either post-9/11 veterans or family members of post-9/11 veterans.
Headstrong Project, Inc.
Headstrong Project Veterans Mental Health – COVID-19
Service Area: National
Founded in 2012, Headstrong Project, Inc. provides mental health care treatment for military veterans and their families. For veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and other forms of anxiety, COVID-19 poses a brand-new set of problems and stressors. Isolation, coupled with the health risk of COVID-19, and the need for many to restrict movement or shelter in place, has elevated anxiety and fear. Headstrong has seen a surge in the demand for mental health services through their programs, which provide suicide prevention and evidence-based mental health services to post-9/11 veterans and their families. This Bob Woodruff Foundation grant will provide evidence-based therapy to improve mental health outcomes for 19 individuals who are either post-9/11 veterans or family members of post-9/11 veterans.
West Texas Counseling and Guidance
Service Area: West Texas
The two main offices of West Texas Counseling & Guidance (WTCG) are located in areas specifically identified as one of the 15 communities cited in BWF’s research paper, “Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans,” as facing significant economic impact due to the pandemic. COVID-19 is also predicted to produce a rise in suicide, substance use, and mental health concerns as a result of the decreasing economy and increased social isolation. Because of the outbreak, WTCG is providing all counseling, support groups, and case management services online. With this BWF grant WTCG will provide virtual evidence-based therapy to improve mental health outcomes through 243 sessions for approximately 60 individuals who are either post-9/11 veterans or family members of post-9/11 veterans