Seattle, WA (July 19, 2016) – Taking care of veterans and their families across the country and right here in their community is a passion for Howard and Sheri Schultz. As part of their $30 Million commitment to help America’s veterans overcome the challenges of returning to civilian life and maximize their reintegration to America’s businesses and communities, the Schultz Family Foundation is seeking best practice and top-tier partners to implement them. Their most recent endeavor is signaled by today’s kick-off of WashingtonServes – Pacific Northwest. This new Seattle area initiative is part of a broader national effort, AmericaServes, funded in part by the Schultz Family Foundation and shepherded by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), which aims to better address the needs of service members, veterans, and their families through streamlined access to high quality providers on a coordinated basis.
Understanding and navigating veteran services can be challenging for transitioning service members and their families. The WashingtonServes network will provide integrated coordination and care to thousands of veterans currently covered by a patchwork of federal, state, local government and nonprofit veteran service providers. Today’s planning session, hosted at FareStart in Seattle, introduced local and regional public, private, and nonprofit organizations to the WashingtonServes concept, which provides a single point of entry into the various systems and services available to veterans. The approach draws from best practices of established “Serves” networks in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as additional networks being considered for Virginia, Texas, and Florida.
The WashingtonServes offering is designed to help veterans and their families in the Seattle and Pacific Northwest area easily identify and access programs and services that meet their unique needs. The effort is facilitated by the private support of philanthropic partners such as the Schultz Family Foundation, and coordinated by IVMF and its partner Accenture, the global business management and consulting firm. The AmericaServes model is further enhanced by an innovative shared software platform delivered by Unite US, IVMF’s technology partner within its AmericaServes initiatives, in order to coordinate and track referrals, manage outcomes and create accountability. Shared data, standardized measures of wait times, outcomes and customer satisfaction set this network apart from others.
The goal of these public-private networks is to connect each service member, veteran, or their family member to providers that can best meet their needs in a timely fashion. Borrowed from the best collective impact initiatives being implemented and offering a true ‘no wrong door’ approach, WashingtonServes will select an organization to run a state-of-the-art coordination center and website staffed with licensed professionals who will match needs with resources available throughout the network and beyond.
“The men and women who have served our country deserve easy access to the programs and services that will ease their transition home. These veterans and their families have committed their lives to our freedom and safety, and now they deserve the chance to play a significant role in our businesses and communities,” said Schultz Family Foundation President and co-founder Sheri Schultz. “As we look at the next five years, we know that a million veterans will transition into civilian life across the country. We have a moral obligation to be there for them to best-address their needs.”
“Community participation is paramount to ensuring that we develop a true, collectively designed network that is tailored to meet the needs of the Pacific Northwest’s veterans, transitioning service members, and their families,” shared Dr. J. Michael Haynie, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), and Vice Chancellor at Syracuse University. “We were thankful when the Schultz Family Foundation chose to partner with our team at IVMF to do this important work.”
“The great state of Washington has led the nation in many efforts to reform service delivery and improve quality of life for our more than 600,000 veterans,” said Lourdes E. ‘Alfie’ Alvarado-Ramos, the Director of the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. “We want to continue our progress as innovators by being part of this unique public private partnership that will help us take the care of our veterans to the next level.”
“One of the biggest and most consistent complaints we’ve heard from our veterans is about the difficulty accessing and navigating the services they need for a successful transition,” said Daniel Pitasky, Executive Director of the Schultz Family Foundation. “We believe we can help by removing barriers and facilitating the coordination of the many systems that touch their lives. Washington State is a leader and houses some of the best veteran service organizations in the county. It’s time to build on these successes by providing a “single front door” for access to the stepping stones veterans need as they transition to civilian life.”
The Schultz Family Foundation and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families are founders of Onward to Opportunity, a program that serves families on military installations across the country, including Joint Base Louis-McChord in Washington State. The Onward to Opportunity Program, launched in 2015, is an on-base training and hiring initiative that connects employers, such as Accenture, Comerica Incorporated, JCPenney, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Starbucks, Wyle-Aerospace Group, and more, to veteran talent. The initiative is operating at the national level with the support of major philanthropic partners and the Department of Defense. Like AmericaServes, Onward to Opportunity is offered at no cost to participants.
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Wayne Westervelt, Director of Communications, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, (315) 443-5690, m: (315) 558-9483, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jason Reindorp, Chief Communications Officer, Schultz Family Foundation, (206) 225-1570, Jason@schultzfamilyfoundation.org
About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families
The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (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. Supported by a world-class advisory board and public and private partners committed to advancing the post-service lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families, the IVMF and its professional staff deliver class-leading programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training. The IVMF also provides actionable and national impacting research, policy analysis and program evaluation; coordinates comprehensive collective impact strategies; and works with communities and non-profits to enhance service delivery for veterans and their families. Learn more about IVMF online.
About the Schultz Family Foundation
The Schultz Family Foundation was co-founded in 1996 by Sheri Kersch Schultz and her husband Howard Schultz, chairman and ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company. Guided by a belief that the right opportunities at the right time can unleash human potential—and that an “inequality of opportunity” is stifling America’s potential, the Foundation invests in innovative programs and partnerships that unlock human potential, remove barriers to success and create new pathways to opportunity. The Schultz Family Foundation currently supports two signature national initiatives: Onward Youth and Onward Veterans. For more information, visit the Foundation site or follow us on Twitter @SchultzFamilyFd.