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As the war winds down in Afghanistan and America’s attention wanes, the Newman’s Own Foundation is in the process of pumping $7 million into dozens of organizations that help service members, veterans and their families.
The organizations include well-known ones, such as Fisher House Foundation, Armed Services YMCA, Our Military Kids, the National Military Family Association, and Student Veterans of America. But there are also lesser-known organizations focusing on needs such as health rehabilitation and support services for veterans, housing, education and career development.
The foundation began donating the $7 million in 2012, when it gave out about $2 million in grants. Another $5 million is going to charities in 2013 and 2014.
The foundation will also launch a challenge on CrowdRise, an online fundraising platform, on Sept. 30, to provide $180,000 in grants for invited military charities at www.Crowdrise.com/ThoseWhoServeChallenge. And $300,000 in grants will be given to charities that help female veterans with career development; organizations should apply by Oct. 25 at www.cybergrants.com/nof/honoringwomenwhoserve.
“As service men and women return from Afghanistan, we don’t want the memory to fade and the attention to fade,” said Jan Schaefer, a spokeswoman for the foundation. “It’s very important we provide the support they need and the assistance as they transition into civilian life.”
Michael O’Gorman, founder and director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, one of the grant recipients, said his organization received $75,000 from Newman’s Own in 2012, and will receive about $100,000 this year for its fellowship fund. The fellowships help veterans with agriculture businesses pay for things to grow their business, such as tractors, greenhouses, and animals for breeding stock. In one case, the organization built a barn for an injured veteran in Oregon so that he could move hay around himself.
“We can directly help veterans. The demand and desire to farm is strong among so many,” O’Gorman said.
The Military Spouse JD Foundation will use its grant money to develop online tools to help military spouses who are attorneys connect more easily to mentors, part of their effort to reduce barriers for spouses trying to move their careers with their service member. They also want to start a program providing free legal guidance to military family members and veterans, using their own members’ legal expertise and their knowledge of the needs of the military community, according to spokeswoman Lori Volkman.
The amount of the grants varies by organization, Schaefer said, but will be up to $500,000 — the amount going to the Fisher House Foundation, which will use the funds to build more comfort homes for families visiting patients at military or Veterans Affairs Department medical facilities. Dave Coker, president of Fisher House Foundation, said Newman’s Own has been a longtime, generous supporter.
“As the wars wind down, deployments may slow a little, but there are so many who have served who have injuries that will require a lifetime of care,” Coker said. “We commend Newman’s Own Foundation for keeping this as a priority of theirs at a time when many people are ready to move on to something else.”
Newman’s Own announced the grants on Sept. 26, the five-year anniversary of the death of actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, who founded the company. It gives 100 percent of the profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own food products to charity — $380 million since 1982.