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March 17, 2015

Schultz Family Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense Join with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to Launch Innovative Military Transition Program

Schultz Family Foundation, U.S. Department of Defense Join with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to Launch Innovative Military Transition Program

Grant to the IVMF supports first-of-its-kind initiative to radically change how transitioning military personnel and spouses are trained and hired for civilian jobs


The Schultz Family Foundation (SFF), the U.S. Department of Defense and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) today announced the launch of Onward to Opportunity, a groundbreaking new national program that will deliver tailored, industry-specific training and certifications to service members and spouses on U.S. military bases prior to transition. This program will provide participants with skill sets to immediately qualify them to work for leading U.S. companies, resulting in a seamless transition from military careers to civilian employment.

Onward to Opportunity is supported by a unique coalition of Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies and nonprofits. The program will launch nationwide on up to six military bases and communities in 2015.

“We are incredibly proud to be working with the Schultz Family Foundation on this groundbreaking program that will support our nation’s military, their families and veterans. Syracuse University has a long history of welcoming our veterans from the post-World War II era to today, building the nationally renowned programs led by IVMF,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Kent Syverud. “Onward to Opportunity’s focus on sector-specific training to fill the recruitment pipeline will make a real difference for today’s service members, impact generations to come and continue Syracuse’s legacy forward.”

“We’re thrilled to have Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families as our partner in this important effort,” says Howard Schultz, Schultz Family Foundation founder and Starbucks chairman and CEO. “Onward to Opportunity has the potential to dramatically change the way that our tremendously talented veterans and military spouses are trained, recruited and hired for civilian jobs. IVMF’s unique experience creating training and employment opportunities for service members and veterans will be a great asset as we move forward with this work.”

Supported by a grant from the Schultz Family Foundation, IVMF will serve as the backbone organization for the development and implementation of the program with team members located on the supported military installations to provide the direct, hands-on management and connections that service members and their spouses will need to be successful.

The first of its kind, Onward to Opportunity will provide the nation’s leading employers—including Microsoft, Starbucks, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and others—with unprecedented visibility and access to the military talent pool prior to the service members separating. This early engagement will allow employers to work with military candidates to develop a deeper understanding of the skills, capabilities and value these talented candidates can provide to their organizations before they take off their uniforms.

Service members on active duty who are within 12 months of separation—and all active duty spouses—are eligible to participate. Each will complete an intake assessment to identify baseline skills relative to the program’s training tracks. Participants will progress through a curriculum that includes a blend of classroom and distance learning, and which begins by identifying the foundational career skills, job opportunities, salary expectations and training or experience necessary to secure employment.

The program will initially focus on customer service and technology training tracks, leveraging best-in-class trainings developed by the nation’s leading private-sector companies, including Microsoft, Starbucks and others.

Upon completion of the industry-specific training tracks, participants become eligible for placement into jobs with employer partners. Service members who complete the program will be prepared for a job interview with the program’s Fortune 500 corporate partners.

Onward to Opportunity is designed to complement the training that the Department of Defense’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP/Transition GPS) and other private sector on-base training programs like the Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) provide for separating service members by introducing targeted, parallel employment opportunities.

“We are excited about this partnership for Onward to Opportunity and the Schultz Family Foundation. This approach is a major leap forward in closing the current gap between when a service member departs the military and finds a potential job,” says J. Michael Haynie, executive director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and vice chancellor for veterans and military affairs at Syracuse University. “When combined with the existing transition programs, Onward to Opportunity will provide service members, their spouses and employers with new opportunities to work together and plan for their futures before leaving the service. By working together seamlessly we create a ‘warm handoff’ from one career to the next for service members and their families.”

For further information regarding Onward to Opportunity, please contact IVMF Senior Director for Community Engagement and Innovation Daniel Savage at

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community, captures best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between the individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Read more at

About the Schultz Family Foundation

The Schultz Family Foundation, established in 1996 by Howard and Sheri Schultz, creates pathways of opportunity for populations facing barriers to success. The foundation invests in innovative solutions and partnerships that unlock people’s potential, and strengthen our businesses, our communities and our nation. In March 2014, the Schultz Family Foundation launched Onward Veterans, a national initiative that empowers post-9/11 veterans and their families to successfully transition to civilian life. For more information about the foundation and its work, visit

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