PHOENIX – The first Arizona foundation to invest in a young non-profit with a unique approach to educating youth and honoring veterans, The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation first awarded grant funding to Veterans Heritage Project (VHP) in 2012. With their support, and others who were inspired by them, VHP has grown from a one club, after-school program, into a non-profit with chapters in 25 schools across 17 Arizona cities, reaching thousands of students of all ages. VHP offers educational enrichment programming which connects students with veterans through an oral history program dedicated to preserving the stories of military men and women’s service to our country.
While VHP prepares students for continued academic and professional success through the development of listening, researching, writing, critical thinking, collaboration, technology, publication, and public speaking skills; the program serves as a platform for creating understanding and appreciation for veterans’ service and bringing awareness of veterans’ issues among the civilian population. Closing the gap between generations, civilians and those who have served, Veterans describe the experience as “cathartic” and “healing,” and many report that is the first time they have opened up about their military encounters with their families. Students often say they are tremendously thankful for their veterans’ service and to VHP for affording them an opportunity to give back to those who have served our Country.
As you can imagine, a program with this mission and of this quality is in high demand. With continued success, the organization constantly hears, “How can we bring VHP to my community?” and, “Why isn’t VHP a national program?” The simple answers are awareness and funding.
Today, VHP is pleased to announce, The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation has awarded the non-profit with a $100,000 capacity building grant that will support Veteran Heritage Project’s strategic goal to become a national model.
The VHP program model supplements Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards, is an Arizona Department of Education certified Character Education program, and has been both locally and nationally recognized by the Library of Congress, the Gilder Lehman Institute of American History, Arizona Department of Education, Arizona Council for Social Studies, Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Society, Arizona Department of Veterans Services, Daughters of the American Revolution, Freedoms Foundation, Hon Kachina Council, Arizona Humanities and more!
Over the next few years, VHP must work to triple contributions, annually raising more than $600,000 needed to build the infrastructure of the growing non-profit through investments in technology platforms and organizational systems, enhanced chapter supports and trainings, fund development strategies, marketing communication methods, program facilities, and additional staffing.
With the support of the Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation, and others in the community, by 2020 VHP will have served 3,000 veterans and tens of thousands of students through 40 Arizona chapters and their supplemental on-campus Veterans’ Lecture Series, and be positioned to serve targeted states beyond Arizona in 2021.
To learn more, VHP can be found online at www.veteransheritage.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/veteransheritageproject and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VHP_501c3.