The mission of the Veterans Program is to create welcoming and inclusive communities for those who served and their families where each is able to reach their maximum potential.
We seek to fulfill our mission through a proactive grant making strategy by which grantees are solicited through a request for proposals (RFP) process. At the present time, there is no active RFP. Please check back for updated information.
Please note: The Foundation only funds 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, not individuals. If you are a veteran looking for direct assistance in transitioning into civilian life, we recommend contacting Illinois Joining Forces, a network of Illinois organizations ready to connect you to the right resources.
Our current funding is directed in the following ways:
Midwest Veterans Employment Initiative
With an unemployment rate consistently two percentage points higher than the national average and even higher for younger veterans and women veterans, MVEP seeks to develop effective workforce development programs that are creating pathways to careers for new veterans. Through grants to nonprofits that are working in collaboration with key stakeholders including post-secondary education, corporations, the VA and Department of employment and economic security, the initiative seeks to develop a model of service delivery tailored to the unique needs of veterans and builds upon the notion of a coordinated and seamless system of care (see below).
Navigation and Coordinated System of Care in the Illinois Initiative
As veterans return to the state from deployment, their first priority is returning back to their families and home communities. Identifying barriers to reintegration, seeking help and finding resources is typically not their first inclination. When veterans are in a position to seek help, there is no system for guiding them toward appropriate and trustworthy resources. To address this need for navigation, the Veterans Program in partnership with the Illinois National Guard is piloting a peer to peer model to assist veterans in finding pathways to information, services and connection with other veterans.
Communities must be prepared to respond to the needs of veterans and their families when they do seek help and in a way that is coordinated and seamless to the veteran. Lessons learned from the Employment Initiative will help shape next steps toward expansion of a network of service providers working in collaboration to meet the needs of veterans.
Welcome Back Veterans Initiative
By some estimates, upwards of 50 percent of new veterans do not seek help through their local VA for entitled services and specifically mental health services. Questions of stigma, interference with career path, imbedded negative ideas about seeking help, and negative perceptions of the VA as well as lack of availability due to geography, all make this a difficult proposition for military service members. Through strategic partnerships with medical centers across the country, local VA medical centers, and research institutions, the veterans program will explore innovative strategies to engage veterans and their families in mental health services that are user friendly, free of stigma and readily accessible. This is a 4 year initiative whose outcomes will inform ways in which the VA and private institutions might work more collaboratively to meet the need as well as provide information on best practices for bringing veterans to services.