3625 Perkins Lane SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
Valor Invests in Veterans Initiative
A Letter from our ceo
Last summer I sat down with my friend Trevor Neilson, the co-founder of Global Philanthropy Group and co-founder and CEO of i(x) investments. At the time, I was still thinking through what Valor Worldwide and OurMilitary.com might look like. I’ve been in the media business my whole life (my father was a community newspaper publisher, and I’ve spent 20 years in technology and digital media), so I felt I had a handle on how to successfully launch and grow the business. I wasn’t meeting with Trevor to go deep on the operations of digital publishing. Before OurMilitary.com even launched, I sat down with Trevor to talk about how to give away money.
Sound a little backwards?
I spent three years on the board of a non-profit that worked with the homeless, and so I knew firsthand the shamefully high percentage of veterans on the street. I saw the successes and shortcomings of government programs and philanthropic efforts to solve this problem. I also saw that the most meaningful progress was made when public programs and private businesses worked collaboratively. That lesson stuck with me, and so I’d been thinking about the role of for-profit businesses in helping solve community problems. I had a strong urge to build the kind of company that has impact on the groups we serve- beyond the bottom line.
With i(x), Trevor runs a very successful investment firm. Dig deeper and you’ll learn he also worked with Bill and Melinda Gates, as a founding team member of their foundation. He was the Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition, working for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. He’s helped Madonna build schools in Malawi and worked on homeless initiatives with Kobe Bryant. Most recently, he co-founded the Malibu Foundation with his wife, Evelin, to help rebuild that community after the Woolsey Fire. In short, Trevor is a person that understands the intersection of capitalism and philanthropy like few in the world.
“We need to think bigger. We need to embrace the notion that capitalism is one of the most powerful forces on the planet, and if we build and invest in businesses that have an explicit purpose, we can create sustained change on a scale that we’ve only imagined.”
– Trevor Neilson, Co-founder and CEO, i(x) investments
Trevor gave me a new lens through which to view my ideas and plans. I started to think about community impact as a business strategy, not a charitable act. I thought less about the costs added by giving, and more about how those acts would improve the performance of our business. Employees want to join a company with a strong cultural core. Customers are more likely to work with partners that think about both the community and the bottom line. Our goals for giving are tangible and measurable, just like other parts of our business. It’s a strategy, not a charity.
Larger companies have long known this. Microsoft has shown decades of incredible leadership with their Employee Giving Program. More recently, Amazon has put money and resources against combatting homelessness (among a myriad of other community programs). Smaller companies might look at those programs with envy, aspiring to reach a point where they, too, can give back to the community in such a meaningful way. It’s really not about company size, though. It’s about will, creativity, and a belief that “profit with a purpose” improves the bottom line of a business.
That’s our bet.
At Valor Worldwide, we feel a responsibility to the communities in which we live and work. We feel a responsibility to the active duty military families that we serve. And we feel a responsibility to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for our country. That sense of responsibility isn’t manifested into action once we hit a certain size. It’s been part of our business from inception, and it’s now formalized with our Valor invests in Veterans Initiative.
We Pledge to donate a minimum of $5K each fiscal quarter to a designated non-profit that provides services that fall into one, or more, of these three main areas of focus:
Non-profits that help to establish positive mental and physical health security within the military community.
Organizations that help find transitional housing and aid to children of wounded or fallen soldiers.
Programs that help military transition to civilian life, aid in job training and help with job placement opportunities.
Sports, Leadership & Community panel event
Presented by Ourmilitary.com in November 2019
Nate boyer, Kirstie Ennis, Doug Baldwin Jr & Kenny Mayne
In a live discussion moderated by ESPN commentator and founder of the Run Freely organization, Kenny Mayne, this amazing group of role models shared how sports transformed their lives and gave them the platform to make change.
Nate Boyer - Former United States Green Beret and American football long snapper for the University of Texas, producer, actor, and television host. Nate co-founded Merging Vets and Players (with Jay Glazer), and the non-profit has since established MVP chapters across the country.
Kirstie Ennis - A Marine, Paralympic snowboarder, businesswoman, and philanthropist. This year Kirstie received ESPN's Pat Tillman Award for Service, and was named a Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year. She’s currently on a quest to be the first female above-knee amputee to climb the 7 Summits.
Doug Baldwin Jr. - A Pro Bowl Receiver and Super Bowl Champion, he's now a business leader and philanthropist, including the development of the Family First Community Center in Renton, WA. In 2018 Doug was one of four finalists for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
All proceeds from our Sports, Leadership & Community event went to two outstanding veteran non-profit organizations - Run Freely and Merging Vets and Players.
Imagine being told that after years of suffering, there was a device that could vastly improve your quality of life, and perhaps allow you to avoid inevitable amputation. And then imagine being faced with the reality of not being able to afford the expenses that come along with the device. Kenny Mayne's Run Freely organization provides finacial support to Veterans to help them with limb salvage solutions to avoid amputation and improve their quality of life.
Merging Vets and Players
MVP connects combat Veterans with professional athletes in a gym setting for therapeutic workouts and counseling sessions where these warriors can benefit from each other's strengths, experience and abilities to unlock their full potential - and lead their families, communities and country towards a better future.
Our First Beneficiary
in Q1 2019, WE partnered with Operation Military Family Cares and the WAServes initiative
Efficient and Transparent Service
Our partnership with Operation Military Family Cares allows us to more directly assist the needs of the veteran community in the Pacific Northwest. OMFC'S commitment to connecting veterans with the correct resources and services for their needs makes them an ideal partner for our social impact program.
Through the WAServes network, this quarter's $5,000 donation will help to fill the financial requests of veterans and their families ranging from housing and emergency services to counseling, tuition aid, or mental and physical health care. We've ensured that our monetary contribution translates into tangible aid for the military community.
A Word from OMFC
"We are grateful to partner with Valor Worldwide and OurMilitary.com and to be the first recipient of their Valor invests in Veterans initiative,” said Mike Schindler, CEO of Operation Military Family Cares. “We look forward to utilizing this money to help as many Washington area military and Veterans families as we can and help position those families on a pathway to success and healing. Donations like these are critical to helping improve the health, morale and financial situation of our military and Veterans.”
here's how our donation was put to use
Wayne is a post 9/11 veteran who had less than three months to discharge and was in need of financial assistance for tools for new employment. He was enrolled in JTec and needed to have his own equipment by the end of the course to secure an employment opportunity. He'd previously been working with Commo2Commerce but when their funding was lost, Wayne's personal funds were consumed by rent and living expenses. With Valor's fund, Wayne was able to purchase his tools and begin his career as a sheet metal worker!
Ryan is a Desert Storm veteran who served honorably and was faced with a financial hardship when his family member incurred medical bills that weren't covered by the VA and were headed into collections. If the funds went into collections his clearance would've been negatively impacted and his non Post-9/11 status made it difficult for him to receive services from other resources. Valor's board reviewed Ryan's case and decided to pay for the outstanding amount of medical bills in total to ensure that his security clearance wouldn't be impacted. Ryan's bills are paid, and he remains employed. He was thrilled!
As our company grows, so will our reach and ability to positively impact the military community. We will continue to find and build the kind of meaningful partnerships that make the biggest impact on our service members, Veterans, and their families. Valor looks forward to collaborating with more military focused non-profits this year so be sure to check back to see where the Valor Invests in Veteran Initiative goes and the lives we've set out to impact!
Bi-Annual Veteran Recognition Scholarship
To help further support our military and their families, we have created a bi-annual scholarship for students that are either an active service member or veteran, a military spouse, or the child of an active service member or veteran.
We are currently accepting applications for our Spring 2020 scholarship! Click "Learn More" for eligibility and how to apply.
In the meantime, please take the time to learn more about our Fall 2019 winning recipient Letty Vasquez here.