Transitioning Through Education
In coordination with the Got Your 6 campaign, Student Veterans of America and the Pat Tillman Foundation and their partners will collect pledges from 500 colleges and universities by June 2014 to implement or enhance resources, programs, and policies to support student veterans.
With the wars overseas drawing down, more than one million student veterans are expected to attend America’s universities and colleges. As nontraditional students, veterans face numerous challenges as they transition to life on campus, from administrative to reintegration to academic issues. However, recent research shows that a peer-support network and the support of the institution can lead to higher academic outcomes for student veterans.
About the Lead Nonprofit Partners
Student Veterans of America was founded to provide military veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and after graduation. The backbone of SVA is the chapter, a campus-based student veteran organization. Not only does each chapter offer a renewed sense of purpose and mission, but they also provide a peer-support structure that has been linked to improved academic results for veterans. SVA supports these student veteran leaders with innovative programs and services such as the annual Leadership Institute, chapter grants, scholarships, the Internship Support Program, and more. Collectively, SVA and its national network of more than 760 chapters are changing the landscape of higher education to empower student veterans to graduate with market-valued degrees.
The Pat Tillman Foundation was established by family and friends following Pat’s death in 2004, while he was serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan. Created to honor Pat’s legacy and pay tribute to his commitment to leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation is a national leader in providing educational support and resources to veterans, active service members and their spouses. Inspired by Pat’s attributes of leadership, passion for education, and spirit of service, the Foundation annually awards educational scholarships through the Tillman Military Scholars program. Since the Foundation’s inception, more than $5 million in educational support has been invested in individuals committed to a life of service both in an out of uniform, including over $3.2 million awarded to 230 Tillman Military Scholars nationwide.
About the Supporting Nonprofit Partner
Operation College Promise (OCP) is a national policy, research and education program based in Trenton, New Jersey, which supports the transition and postsecondary advancement of our nation’s veterans. The program’s mission is to support student veterans “To, Through and Beyond” the attainment of their higher education objectives. Founded in 2008 as a web-based resource, the project was initiated by the New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities (NJASCU) to centralize transition information for servicemembers on a comprehensive website. Today, the program has reached more than 300 institutions in 25 states through its signature training – the Certificate for Veterans’ Service Providers (CVSP) program and is a national leader in research efforts on student veterans’ progress toward degree and employment, as well as in the development of innovative degree plans for military students.
Working with the Best
SVA is the only organization with a network of student veterans nationwide organized and well-positioned to advocate for change and make an impact on hundreds of campuses across the country.
The Pat Tillman Foundation has a history of conducting high-quality research into the ways in which institutions of higher learning can provide support to student veterans and works closely with university partners around the nation to create innovative support programs.
To achieve their lofty goal, SVA and the Pat Tillman Foundation have enlisted the aid of Operation College Promise. In addition, they have worked with the American Council on Education to develop the standards by which college campuses become more veterans friendly. At their disposal are more than 760 Student Veterans of America chapters across the country, as well as the leadership of hundreds of Tillman Military Scholars and alumni. Through the aforementioned networks, these Got Your 6 partners will reach 500 colleges and universities across the country while adding their support to the collaborative effort.
Got Your 6 Commitment
In coordination with the Got Your 6 campaign, Student Veterans of America, the Pat Tillman Foundation, and their partners will collect pledges from 500 colleges and universities by June 2014 to implement or enhance resources, programs, and policies to support student veterans.
Working to Make it a Reality
The strategy to achieve this goal is focused on mobilizing SVA’s grassroots network, while simultaneously utilizing the specific resources of each partnering organization. This strategy is outlined below:
- Grassroots Mobilization: SVA’s 760 chapters are often the motivating organization on campus that rallies the university or college to become more supportive of student veterans. While this pledge will allow schools that have been successful in that pursuit to highlight their work, it is also an advocacy tool that SVA chapters can use to compel their university or college to make improvements to their supportive services. All chapters across SVA’s network will be encouraged to ask their school to adopt this pledge.
- The Research Component: The Pat Tillman Foundation and Operation College Promise have also established partnerships with a number of colleges and universities through their 2011 pilot study, “Completing the Mission.” In 2012, the study expanded to reach over 50 institutions nationwide to identify academic success, retention, and graduation rates among student veterans and correlate data points to supportive services utilized by student veterans. Schools participating in this research will also be asked to sign the pledge.
- Connecting with IHL Leadership: Through the American Council on Education’s network of campus presidents, the education pillar will be able to further expand the number of institutes of higher learning that are aware of this opportunity and encouraged to sign the commitment.
- Highlighting Supportive Services: Signing the pledge is the first step in the education pillar’s overall mission. The next step is to see supportive programs and initiatives implemented. Without dictating exactly how a school can do so, the pillar partners have recommended specific vehicles that an institution can use when researching the needs of their veterans. They include the following: the local SVA chapter, ACE’s Toolkit for Veteran-Friendly Institutions, and Operation College Promise’s Field Guide.
Working with Got Your 6 to Amplify the Effort
With Got Your 6’s support, the education pillar is establishing a custom platform for online pledging and signatures. Not only will this allow for maximum distribution of the pledge, but it will also provide each institution with increased exposure. We anticipate achieving our goal well in advance of our 2014 deadline, due in large part to the collaborative nature of all partners and the well-established relationships each has with institutions of higher education.