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November 13, 2013

Google Global Impact Award Supports Advances in Veteran’s Higher Education

Google Global Impact Award Supports Advances in Veteran’s Higher Education

While an increased number of veterans and their families are pursuing higher education as made possible by the GI Bill, they may not be using it to their full advantage. Recent data shows a lower than average graduation rate among veterans, suggesting the possibility that the veteran community is being underserved by higher education.

In an effort to understand the aspirations of student veterans, the facilitators that make these dreams possible, and the barriers that can sometimes prevent the achievement of these aspirations, Google has provided a $3.2 million Global Impact Award to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF), Student Veterans of America (SVA), the Posse Foundation and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The grant will be used both to learn about veteran student success, and to further empower student veterans to achieve their goals in higher education.

“Working with these organizations, which focus on empowering student veterans, and veterans in their communities broadly, gives us the opportunity to learn much, and to share what we learn widely,” said James Schmeling, IVMF managing director and co-founder. “SVA supports students pursuing higher education, and enables us to hear directly from their members what works, what doesn’t, why, and what they perceive should change.”

Specifically, the IVMF will use the award to conduct analysis on the marketing, recruitment, orientation, student services, experiential learning, career services and alumni engagement services that impact the education of U.S. student veterans. The research will be publicly announced as a means to invite educational institutions and personnel who deal directly with student veterans’ affairs to share their own data on the subject. Data reviewed by the IVMF and SVA will be used to identify opportunities for further fieldwork, and to determine which findings should be disseminated as models for adaptation, adoption, or replication at other educational institutions.

The goal of the project is to shine a light on gaps and promising practices in the services offered to veterans pursuing degrees in higher education. By studying and sharing these issues, IVMF and its partners hope to enhance educational institutions’ ability to provide education to veterans and families, to improve the experiences of student veterans, and to ensure increased graduation rates among those veterans who choose to use their GI Bill to earn a degree.

The IVMF’s community engagement team will work to secure the data needed for the study, and to determine the best means of presenting the results in order to aid institutes of higher education in empowering their student veterans to complete their degrees.

“With $30 billion in post-9/11 GI Bill benefits invested by the VA, serving one million veterans to date, the need to better understand the return on that investment is paramount to both the Department of Veterans Affairs and our student veterans,” said Colonel (Retired) Jim McDonough, IVMF senior director for community engagement. “We owe it to both to ensure the future stewardship of important resources and to meet our veterans’ education needs.”

For more information regarding the IVMF and its efforts concerning the grant, please contact Jim McDonough at (315)-415-4050 or jdmcdono@syr.edu.

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