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Entrepreneurship Program for Veterans earns White House praise

Program  Receives $1 Million from Walmart and Sam’s Club Through New Veterans’ Initiative

In recognition of its support of the nation’s veterans, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV), of which Florida State University is one of seven collegiate partners, was represented today at the White House during the launch of a new national initiative, Joining Forces.

The new program, spearheaded by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president and an educator herself, will support and honor members of the military and their families. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined their wives in the East Room to deliver remarks about the new program.

“There are so many ways that every American can lend a hand and make a difference,” Jill Biden said. “We have met individuals and groups across this country who are supporting our troops and their families and showing all Americans that there are countless ways to help — some large and many small. But all important. And I can tell you from personal experience, all appreciated. That is why we are here today — and why Michelle and I are trying to rally American communities to join us.”

Offered at Florida State’s College of Business since 2008 through the Center for Veteran Outreach and in partnership with The Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship, the boot-camp program is designed to open the door to business ownership to America’s veterans by providing cutting-edge, experiential training in entrepreneurship and small-business management to servicemen and women who have suffered disabilities as a result of their military service. In March, the national Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities was named as one of the 10 best entrepreneurship programs in the nation by Inc. magazine.

“The Florida State University College of Business is dedicated to serving the veterans of our country,” said Caryn L. Beck-Dudley, dean of the college. “Through our partnership in the consortium of schools that offer the EBV program, to our creation of the Center for Veteran Outreach — recruiting veterans and serving as a resource for them through school and after graduation — we are honoring a responsibility to serve those who have paid an ultimate price in defending our nation.”

$1 Million Grant Announced

The Joining Forces initiative builds on President Obama’s directive to establish a coordinated and comprehensive federal approach to supporting military families. Also announced as part of today’s Joining Forces launch was a $1 million grant to the EBV Foundation from Walmart and Sam’s Club’s Military Families Promise initiative.

On Veterans Day 2010, the Walmart Foundation announced its own five-year, $10 million commitment to support military and veteran employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. As part of Walmart’s commitment to veterans, the EBV Foundation will receive a $1 million grant to support the boot-camp program at its seven major university partners, as well as facilitate the expansion of the program to additional schools. The funds will also support small-business training for more than 100 military family members through the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families program (EBV-F), to be offered only at Florida State and Syracuse University.

FSU and Syracuse Play Lead Role

“Florida State has a close working relationship with Syracuse University and the national EBV program,” said Randy Blass, director of FSU’s boot-camp program. “As the second school in the nation to offer the program, we have played a large role in turning it into a national effort.

“We are proud to now be the second school to offer the EBV-F program as well,” he said. “It is our goal to continue enhancing the EBV programs and serve our veterans who have done so much for our country.”

Corporate Commitment to Nation’s Veterans

Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon had high praise for the various efforts to aid military veterans and their families.

“As one of the nation’s largest employers of veterans, we applaud the first lady and Dr. Biden’s continued leadership when it comes to honoring and supporting our nation’s heroes,” Simon said. “With our presence in communities across the U.S., we are in a unique position to make a difference on issues that matter most to the military and veteran communities.

“We know an underserved, yet critical, need is access to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for military spouses and those returning home from duty,” he said. “This commitment will help ease the burden of relocation and decrease the financial strain so many military families feel when they are moved to a new part of the country.”

With today’s announcement, Walmart becomes the second major corporate partner providing financial support to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, joining PepsiCo, a partner since 2010. Walmart’s commitment also extends to supporting small-business training to military family members, joining founding corporate sponsor Ernst & Young in supporting the EBV-F.

Offering a New Start

More than 300 wounded military personnel and their family members have graduated from the EBV and EBV-F programs since 2007. All told, they have created more than 150 small businesses. The training is offered without any cost to participants.

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities was developed at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, and is offered through a network of world-class business schools including the Florida State University College of Business, the Anderson School of Management at the University of California Los Angeles, the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M University, the Krannert School at Purdue University, the College of Business at the University of Connecticut and the E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University.

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