Lara KalwinskiPublic-Private Partnership: Difficult but Essential to Serving Veterans

By: Lara Kalwinski In: 2013 Fall Conference| Philanthropy

25 Sep 2013

Government officials, philanthropists, and foundation staff often discuss the importance of providing services to our veterans and their families. However, we don’t often link the importance of those services to protecting the all voluntary military force. Today’s working lunch emphasized the importance of supporting our volunteers and then did a deeper dive on exactly how we do that through public-private partnership.

The McCormick Foundation shared their experience partnering with Major League Baseball Charities on the Welcome Back Veterans program. The program connects returning veterans to services, especially PTSD treatment.

The San Diego Grantmakers Association recognized that their role in veterans support was to be a neutral convener that brings people together to do stuff better and then to share what they learned so that the community can keep improving their work.

The Lincoln Community Foundation shared how a 2010 Council on Foundations conference speaker’s call to action to reach out to veterans informed the work they are presenting on at this year’s conference. They reminded us that community foundations must know who their veterans are before we can serve them.

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s Thomas Meyer reminded us that veterans are assets to our communities and that when we connect with them to utilize their knowledge and talents, we strengthen our community.

Sharing our work led to honest group discussion regarding what public-private partners need to know about each other to work together toward common goals.

Col. James Isenhower III, Director, Warrior and Family Support Office reassured community foundations that the military recognizes public-private partnership is an effective way to serve members of the military who are transitioning into civilian life. He shared examples of successful partnerships and recognized the challenges of adapting public and private sector systems to create collaborative programs. Col. Isenhower announced a White Paper reflecting his comments and the Warrior and Family Support Office’s commitment to public-private partnership.

With honest dialogue and commitment among our public-private partners to question and improve our systems for working together, the session ended on a hopeful note that public-private partnership will get easier and demonstrate greater impact if we all commit to celebrating successes and working through challenges together. The Council will continue to support the work of our members by creating an online Community of Practice for Veterans Philanthropy.

Lara Kalwinski is Policy & Strategy Associate, Director of National Standards at the Council on Foundations.

2 Responses to Public-Private Partnership: Difficult but Essential to Serving Veterans

Nancy Jamison

September 26th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

The public-private partnership on this issue taking place in San Diego is, more specifically, the Military Transition Support Project (MTSP — In a nutshell, MTSP is a cross-sector regional collaboration working to: create a plan for a central resource in San Diego County for finding, referring and coordinating military transition support services; identify the resources to sustain it; and highlight it as a model to other regions with similar needs. Representatives from the military, government agencies, elected office, nonprofit coalitions, business associations and philanthropic organizations are closely involved, and they, in turn, are working carefully to inform and seek feedback from the myriad of additional stakeholders about the emerging plan. This is indeed a complicated, but necessary, undertaking if we truly want to transform the transition experience for our returning veterans. In this instance, three foundations are funding the effort (primarily Blue Shield of California Foundation with add’l support from Rancho Santa Fe Foundation and WebMD Health Foundation), a grantmaker association is facilitating it, and public/private/nonprofit expertise is providing the “how.” All of these parties working together is critical to maintaining the momentum – and flexibility – required to support our transitioning veterans in the best way possible.

Ronald Schmidt

October 11th, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Thanks to Brian Horn of for bringing me to this Blog.

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