The Aurora Foundation hosted its first Webinar that brought together nine schools and one corporate organization who’ve either created or are interested in creating a Green Zone Program.
The Green Zone Program has been a part of the Aurora Foundation’s grant offerings since the beginning. In 2010, in partnership with the Virginia Wounded Warrior Program, Aurora helped fund the creation of the initial Green Zone Program at Virginia Commonwealth University. The success of this program showed that student veterans who went through classes taught by faculty and staff trained in Green Zone seminars felt more comfortable talking to their professors if there was an issue. They also felt like their transition to college from the military was smoother, and that VCU was looking out for the veterans who attended. Due to the success at VCU, as well as the need for programs like the Green Zone to be created and aid in the acclimation of student veterans on campus, the Aurora Foundation saw an increase in the numbers of requests for the Green Zone grant. In 2012, Aurora awarded four Aurora Green Zone grants. Two additional ones for similar programs were awarded in January 2013.
Hosting this Green Zone Webinar was the culmination of lessons learned from three schools who’ve implemented their Green Zone grant and are beginning to see results. Other schools attending the webinar have either just received Green Zone grants and are in the early stages of implementation or they were interested in more about the program for future reference. All benefited from the ideas shared.
Throughout the presentation, several recurring themes arose from the presentations:
- There is a clear need to assist student veterans in their transition, yet there is a lack of funding available for programs specifically for student veterans
- Executive leadership is crucial to the success of the program
- Someone with former military experience leading efforts in the school is key
- Mentorship from faculty/staff to student veterans is key
- Surveys are important to assess how the Green Zone is affecting student veterans
- Measuring retention rates is still challenging, but there is a focus and determination to do so – changing information systems to properly capture these metrics are critical
- Female veterans often face different issues than male veterans; consideration for classes specific to women veterans is recommended
The schools presenting included Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, VA; Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach, VA; and Mississippi State University in Mississippi State, MS. There were over 20 participants from seven states and DC who participated in the Webinar: one corporation participated, that being CACI, who has partnered with Aurora twice now to help create internship opportunities within their company for student veterans. Nine schools were represented; seven of which have received Green Zone grants from the Aurora Foundation.
Aurora is pleased with the results of the Webinar, and hopes to host more in the future. An executive summary of the Webinar and the slides presented can be found here.
In support of Aurora’s mission to enable student veterans to successfully graduate from college and enter the workforce, Aurora offers grants to higher education institutions to support the student veteran population. Aurora has given grants for faculty training and awareness of veterans issues, one-stop shop resources for veterans on campus, veteran-only curriculum, peer-to-peer mentorship, and other needs identified by schools. The Foundation also assists student veterans with the identification of full-time, paid internship opportunities in various fields and industries. Student veterans have the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in their areas of interest and gain insight into the civilian workforce. To date, the Aurora Foundation has graduated interns in a variety of industries including National Security, Finance/Banking, Law, IT, and Marketing. To learn how you can apply for a grant, an internship or to sponsor one of our student veterans, please contact Ellen Hembree, at info@Aurora4vets.org.