A new collaboration between Arizona State University’s Pat Tillman Veterans Center and the Public Service Academy will now move forward after receiving a $100,000 grant from Women & Philanthropy — an ASU Foundation engagement program.
During the Women & Philanthropy yearly appreciation luncheon Tuesday at the Camelback Golf Club in Scottsdale, the Veterans Scholar Program was one of four recipients of a sizeable grant that aims to improve veteran graduation rates and prepare them for the workforce.
“The focus is to leverage our student veterans to improve academically,” said Michelle Loposky, Pat Tillman Veterans Center assistant director for outreach and engagement. “But also to get them engaged with the ASU community and discover their potential.”
Veterans going into their senior year could be eligible for up to a $1,000 grant after graduation if they satisfy the program’s three components: an improved GPA, community service and professional development.
“The amount of money awarded to the students will be determined by their ending GPA,” Loposky said.
Students earning a 3.8 GPA or better will get $1,000, Loposky said. A 3.5 or above gets $750, and anyone with 3.1 or higher gets $500.
“We would like to see those veterans with lower GPAs reach 3.0 and above,” Loposky said.
Students should receive the funding after they apply for graduation, Loposky said. The grant will be approved once the Pat Tillman Veterans Center confirms that students have met the GPA requirements and satisfied the other two program components.
“The earned funding is supposed to go to something that adds to their professional brand,” Loposky said. “For example, buying a suit, paying for a professional certification, covering the cost of a conference, etc.”
A key part the program is the partnership with ASU’s Public Service Academy, as it unites the academy’s Next Generation Service Corps with student veterans to work jointly on community service projects.
“This is an incredible opportunity to both directly train veteran leaders and my civilian student leaders side-by-side,” said Brett Hunt, Public Service Academy executive director, “thereby transmitting the leadership experience that veterans have beyond their years in the military to my civilian students who are emerging potential leaders in the future.”
Student veterans will have the opportunity to work with the Public Service Academy in community projects through ASU’s Changemaker Central; Devils in Disguise; Red, White and Serve; and other “direct service opportunities.”
“What we’re doing at the end of the day is building leadership infrastructure,” Hunt said. “The Veterans Scholar Program gives us the ability to transform our student veterans into that leadership infrastructure for the nation.”
Behind the new program is a bigger notion that speaks to the heart of many veterans and that they often miss after they leave the military.
“It’s about instilling a higher purpose other than going out and getting a job,” said Hunt, a former Army captain and State Department Foreign Service officer. “That is what has drawn many of us veterans here to ASU, doing something purpose-driven that when you leave the military you don’t have to leave service behind. This is a way to translate that into purpose in the civilian sector.”
Women & Philanthropy celebrated its 15th year in 2017. In the past year, the group has donated $3.7 million to 87 different ASU programs.