Schultz Foundation Awards $7.5 Million for Veterans' Career Readiness

Schultz Foundation Awards $7.5 Million for Veterans' Career Readiness

The Seattle-based Schultz Family Foundation has announced a two-year, $7.5 million grant to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

The grant will support an expansion of the institute's Onward to Opportunity (O2O) program, which provides in-demand skills training and certification to service members transitioning to civilian life. Since its launch in 2015, O2O has served nearly 20,000 service members, veterans, and military spouses in all fifty states and abroad — of whom more than 11,000 have transitioned to civilian jobs through the program's partnerships with employers, while thousands of others have gone on to pursue higher education and vocational training. The new funding will help ensure that transitioning service members around the world receive first-class training up to six months before they leave active duty and have their next job lined up when they return home. Going forward, the program is expected to facilitate an additional 4,000 to 4,500 hires a year.

A report from IVMF, released to coincide with the grant announcement, warns that the costs and consequences associated with a failed or sub-optimal employment transition for the service member, his or her family, and society are often "catastrophic." According to the white paper, A Case for Patient Philanthropy: Supporting Jobs and Careers for Military-Connected Americans (40 pages, PDF), unemployment or underemployment at the time of transition has been demonstrated to undermine the long-term financial health of the family unit and contribute to marginalized health outcomes, and has been linked to an increased rate of suicidal ideation among veterans; high rates of veteran unemployment also squander the human capital invested in service members and veterans. Funded by the Schultz Family Foundation, the report argues that a "patient philanthropy" approach — early philanthropic investment and prolonged commitment, along with close collaboration among funders, public-sector stakeholders, and community partners — is uniquely effective in catalyzing public engagement with the issue and driving policy change.

"Our goal at the Schultz Family Foundation is to support these men and women who have worn the cloth of the nation as they transition into civilian life," said Howard Schultz, the co-founder and former CEO and executive chair of Starbucks. "Onward to Opportunity is a win-win. The program allows our volunteer service members to be recognized for their knowledge, talent, and experience when they return home, and it connects employers to one of the country's deepest pools of workforce-ready talent. We are proud to continue to partner with the IVMF, the U.S. Department of Defense, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and other leading private sector partners to ensure our veterans and their families make a smooth transition and achieve the same security at home that they made possible for the rest of us through their service."