The Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge today announced more than $106 million in new commitments to strengthen services and support for millions of veterans and military families throughout America. Six new grantmakers joined more than 30 philanthropic organizations and corporations that made the Impact Pledge since 2014.
Since last year’s Impact Pledge announcement of $170,000,000, an additional $106,225,000 has been committed (both cash and in-kind), bringing the total to $276,225,000. These new Impact Pledge members include:
- Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which is supporting the national goal to eliminate veterans homelessness.
- The Jewish Women's Foundation of New Jersey,which is supporting a special funding and community education initiative devoted to addressing issues facing women veterans.
- Lockheed Martin Corporation, which is supporting organizations that serve military members, veterans and their families.
- New York State Health Foundation, which ishelping replicate best practices to serve veterans, strengthen behavioral health providers, and evaluate emerging partnerships between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private health care sector.
- Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, which is focusing on strengthening regional and state ecosystems that serve veterans and military families.
- WebMD Health Foundation, which issupporting a number of initiatives focused on addressing the mental health needs of veterans and military families.
These new commitments were announced during a day-long meeting in Washington, D.C. marking the first anniversary of the effort. Nearly 200 grantmakers, veterans, military family members, policymakers, service providers and others were in attendance at the event hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange.
“Returning soldiers face serious, often simultaneous challenges, like adjusting to a new routine with their families, looking for new jobs and homes, starting college or training courses, and receiving physical and mental health treatment, among others,” said Vikki Spruill, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Today’s announcement shows philanthropy’s ongoing commitment to meeting these challenges with significant action. In addition to the pledged funds, these organizations are committing to the information sharing, relationship building, and ongoing engagement that will make a lasting difference in the lives of our country’s veterans and their families.”
The Pledge represents an ongoing commitment to ensure that all veterans and their families get the long-term support they deserve. Pledge members are pooling their expertise and resources to support efforts that effectively address a range of issues, including job training, education access, housing, health, and wellness needs.
This year’s convening builds on the historic pledges in 2014, which began as an effort to help more than two million veterans and their families successfully reintegrate to civilian life after more than a decade of war. Impact Pledge members are now working together to ensure more than 21 million veterans in America today receive the long-term support they deserve. The need is clear. More than 16 percent of veterans who served post 9/11 report a service-related injury. Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless each night, many of whom suffer from mental illness or substance abuse. The unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans exceeds the national rate, particularly for those ages 25 to 34.
Today’s event featured remarks from Sec. Robert McDonald of the Department of Veterans Affairs; Gen. Frank Grass, Chief, National Guard Bureau; Lee Woodruff, author and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation; Col. Miguel Howe of the George W. Bush Institute; former Sen. Elizabeth Dole of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation; and representatives of The White House Joining Forces Initiative.
Attendees also received an Impact Pledge progress report featuring the efforts of existing Pledge members. The report will be shared with the White House, federal agencies, veterans organizations and other stakeholders. Attendees also participated in panel discussions and ‘solution sessions’designed to address key challenges and opportunities facing veterans and military families—such as homelessness, employment and mental health—and the communities where they live and work.
The Impact Pledge effort was spearheaded last year by several member organizations of the Council on Foundations, including, Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, and members of the White Oak Steering Committee—hosted by Blue Star Families—that brings together the public and private sector to foster and create partnerships to address the ever-changing challenges of military family life.
“Philanthropy has leveraged its unique ability to work across sectors, build consensus, and pool resources to make impactful investments in our communities,” said Peter Long, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. “The goal of The Pledge is to grow philanthropy’s commitment, in both large and small ways, to supporting our nation’s veterans and military families.”
To support the overall effort, the Council on Foundations created the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange. It is an online platform to allow philanthropic organizations to share best practices, identify and address emerging needs, leverage resources and investments for maximum benefit, and enlist more donor support.
A custom resource and investment mapping tool, built for the Exchange by the Foundation Center, helps funders identify investment strategies, locate other funders and programs and provides other research and resources on philanthropy and veterans issues. For example, the Exchange can provide a platform for grantmakers to share what they learned from their work in preventing domestic violence and how to more effectively understand how the trauma of war can affect the safety of loved ones when veterans return home.
“We are proud to support our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our nation and are eager to build a strong future for themselves, their families and communities,” says John Damonti, president of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “However, the transition from military life to civilian life can be challenging for many soldiers and their families. That is where we, our grantees and our partners in the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge can help, by working together to ensure our veterans get the best possible support to address their needs.”