Empowering Military Children with Our Military Kids  - Bob Woodruff Foundation

Empowering Military Children with Our Military Kids 

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Growing up in a military family comes with challenges and experiences vastly different from those of civilians. Military kids face many unique circumstances that can profoundly shape their lives, like frequently coping with the absence of a deployed parent or the emotional toll of a parent recovering from combat-related injuries. Our Military Kids, a Bob Woodruff Foundation funding recipient, recognizes the specific needs of military-connected families and strives to provide children with opportunities for social connection, personal growth, and support.

Malakai Football white and green jersey number 29 and Lachanda Cheer with pom poms and green cheerleader uniform standing beside their father wearing an army uniform

About Our Military Kids

By offering scholarships for extracurricular activities, Our Military Kids provides an invaluable opportunity for these children to connect with their peers, build friendships, and participate in activities that can help them grow and develop their confidence. These scholarships include various programs, like sports, arts, music lessons, STEM, and summer camps, to engage kids in fulfilling experiences and offer them a sense of normalcy and joy during challenging times. 

From Recipient to Advocate: Michelle Criqui’s Journey

A photo of Col Brett Criqui (Ret) in uniform with Michelle Criqui

Michelle Criqui, the marketing and communications manager at Our Military Kids, reflected on her experience – first as a  beneficiary of the organization’s services, then as a volunteer, and, later, as an employee. 

Throughout Michelle’s childhood, her father served on active duty in the US Army and later in the Army National Guard. During her senior year of high school, he was deployed overseas. At this time, Michelle was actively involved in her high school’s crew team, a sport she enjoyed, but it required significant financial investment. That’s when a soldier in her father’s unit connected her to Our Military Kids through a soldier in her father’s unit. With their support, Michelle’s mother secured grants that covered the cost of being on the crew team, and she could keep participating. 

Motivated by the organization’s profound impact on her family, Michelle returned to Our Military Kids as a volunteer after graduating from college. Her dedication and contributions led to her current role as a full-time communications team member. Witnessing the organization’s positive impact on other military families has been a gratifying experience.

An NFL-BWF Salute to Service Funding Recipient

 Our Military Kids will provide at least 90 military children access to scholarships for extracurricular activities, enabling their participation in extracurricular activities that foster social connection, personal growth, and well-being; this work is supported by through NFL-BWF Salute to Service funding. They can join sports teams, explore art, and music, engage in STEM programs, or embark on enriching summer adventures, enhancing resilience.

The impact of these scholarships extends beyond the immediate benefits of social connection and personal growth. Engaging in extracurricular activities can provide a much-needed respite from military children’s challenges, offering them an outlet for self-expression, stress relief, and a break from their daily responsibilities. As Our Military Kids approach nearly two decades of operation, their gratitude for the ability to assist military families remains unwavering.

Kara Dallman, Our Military Kids’ executive director, shared, “Our organization is experiencing a remarkable 26% growth in program applications since last year at this time. Thanks to partners like the Bob Woodruff Foundation and NFL Salute to Service, we have held true to our commitment to never turn away a single eligible child in almost 20 years.” 

For more information on Our Military Kids, please visit their website.