Connecting Our Nation and Our Military: The Community Blueprint Network

Connecting Our Nation and Our Military: The Community Blueprint Network


Colby is our Senior Advisor for veterans and military families and wounded warriors, and many of you know Colby. or have met him over the course of this past couple of months that he’s been with us. Thank you for joining us today. This is a special occasion because it’s the first in a new series of webinars that tap into your wisdom and experience as veterans or military families or programs that serve veterans and military families. We want to learn from you; and we also want to learn with you so that we can build a body of knowledge that focuses in particular on education, employment, and health for veterans and military families. We are very delighted to have with us Tricia Thompson today. Tricia’s with the Points of Light Institute; and she’ll be sharing with you, as you know, the Community Blueprint, which is their approach for identifying and addressing the needs of veterans and military families. So thank you very much for coming today. And, Tricia, may I turn it over to you? Great, thank you, Margie. Can you hear me okay? Absolutely. Great, and so good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedules to learn more about the Community Blueprint. The Community Blueprint is an initiative that is led and administered by the Points of Light, but it’s really rooted and exists as a result of collaboration at a national level; and the model is really rooted in replicating that collaborative spirit inside local communities across the country. So my goal today is going to be to provide you with the basic background information about the Blueprint. So we’ll talk about what it is, where it came from, where we are now, and where we’re headed, and of course, give you some information about how you can get involved and leverage these tools and resources in your local community. If you have questions, as Nicki and Margie mentioned, feel free to type those into the Chat Box. We’ll definitely make sure that we address those, and we’ll definitely have a Q&A time at the very end of our session together today. So as with all community solutions, they all begin with a problem. So we’re going to talk a little bit about the problem that existed and resulted in this solution, because the Community Blueprint was really developed to solve a few nationwide issues, the first of which is — as many of you guys I’m sure see in your circle of friends and maybe with your family and inside your own networks — is that people really are looking for a meaningful way to serve the military community. And they’re really not sure where to begin. So oftentimes, individuals or groups end up doing very high PR and really high feel-good activities, but really lower impact projects. So those things are, you know, Cards for the Troops and Backpacks for Kids, which we at Points of Light — those projects are very near and dear to our hearts, and we do those quite regularly. But we also know that there is a great need out there to engage in activities that really will help move the needle on some of these issues and things like housing and homelessness and employment, behavioral health. And so we really recognize that there are opportunities for Americans to engage in a higher level of service to create some systemic changes inside our communities. The other issue or problem that exists in the world I think today is — and I think the case can be made that this issue exists outside of the military and exists in our civilian community as well — but is really around the fact that we have lots of organizations doing really great work. But inside communities there’s still many gaps that exist in services, and there’s still often duplication in services. And I think most importantly is that folks aren’t aware of the services that actually exist inside their community. And so we really have a very broken system that’s not necessarily easy to navigate by service members, veterans, and their families. And so for those two big reasons, the Community Blueprint initiative was started as a way to really provide guidance to communities for meaningful, high impact things to do to create change, as well as really increase collaboration inside communities to create a network of services. So let me give you a little bit of history here. So the Blueprint idea started a couple years back at a retreat that happened in White Oaks, Florida. Blue Star Families brought together the folks from both the public and private sector to engage in a national conversation around how we can better work together and collaborate and really leverage resources to better serve our military community. So a couple of things came out of that conversation, and one of which was this idea around the need for a Community Blueprint, if you will, and a tool or a resource that you could hand over to community leaders who wanted to do something more. And this idea resonated with a bunch of people in the Rim. So the majority of those vets are now serving on our Advisory Council, and we’ll show you a slide here in a second that will show you who those folks were. But many folks in the room raised their hands and said, I want to work on this project; let’s work together and make this happen. And so there wasn’t a budget. It was basically volunteers at a very grass top level that continues to get on the phone monthly and talk through what this tool or resource or initiative would look like. And very quickly, the group recognized that we weren’t the smartest people in the room, and that we really needed to engage anyone and everyone that we knew to be a part of the conversation to really help shape the vision and the structure and the strategy around that. And so we convened a few times — some gatherings actually held at the Red Cross building locally here in D.C. — and brought together between 70 and 100 organizations that included organizations like the VA and DOD. The Corporation for National and Community Service, of course, has been a part of this conversation from the beginning; and organizations like National Military Family Association and Blue Star Families and Military Child Education Coalition, Red Cross. So we had who we thought were really smart in this space there to really inform the strategy. And then over time, folks who were a part of the conversation said, Let’s start making some stuff happen. So one of the folks on our Advisory Council, Barbara Van Dahlen, who heads up Give an Hour, Founder and CEO, sought some money to actually launch a couple of these pilot sites. So a pilot site started out in Hampton Roads, Virginia; another one in Fayetteville, North Carolina. And some of our other Blueprint partners decided that they would launch some sites. Military Officers Association of America has started a couple of sites — Red Cross. So over time, organizations have stepped up and said, Yeah we want to do this, and let’s launch it in a small way and learn from those communities so that we can take it to scale. We also, through the American Legion Auxiliary, approached the Corporation for National Community Service with this idea; and we said, We’d really love some support through VISTA to help build the capacity at the national level to develop new tools and resources. And thankfully, they provided us with that. So over time we had the tools, we had the resources, we had some boots on the ground; but we recognized that we really needed a home for this initiative. And so at that point, a task force was kind of convened out of that larger group to help find a home. And Points of Light was approached to become the administering agent, if you will, because we weren’t experts in the military space which actually provided us some benefit because we were a very neutral party. And I think we weren’t experts in the military space, but what we are experts in is really kind of understanding how to mobilize communities and the average American to get behind this and make this stuff happen in local communities. We also have assets that we can bring to the table as far as our large network of AmeriCorps alums and our affiliate structure across the country — so things of that nature. So for various reasons, they felt like we would be a good partner. And so as of June of last year, Points of Light has been leading this initiative and really trying to think about how we can take it to scale. So on your screen you’ll see the list of folks who are currently on our Advisory Council. And I think it speaks to the fact that this is not a Points of Light initiative. It is not a Give an Hour initiative. It is not a Red Cross initiative. This is a “we” initiative, and I think that’s what made it so successful — is that this has been a shared initiative from the very beginning. And while we are leading it and moving it forward now, we still maintain that collaborative nature and really work to encourage communities to in fact kind of replicate that and do the same locally. So what is the Community Blueprint Network? Where did we in fact land? Well, the Network is really about bringing together our community leaders, individuals, government, non-profit, all together to really create an integrated solution locally to help address some of the challenges facing the military community. So it’s really all about collaboration, innovation. It’s about driving kind of towards sharing effective practices with each other, learning from each other, lifting those up, replicating those, scaling those. And really at its root is a framework — a way to think about this work and really meaningful how to guides. So really it’s a roadmap; it’s a roadmap for communities to help address some of these issues. And we’ve bucketed this work into eight issue areas; and so you’ll see those on your screen — behavioral health, education, employment, family strength, financial legal services, housing, reintegration, and volunteering. And so within each of those eight buckets, we have promising practices which basically provide you with meaningful things to do. So, Nicki, if you can go to the next slide, we’ll get some examples of those promising practices. So for instance, under behavioral health, one of our promising practices is provider training. So we know that there’s lots of mental health providers out there, but oftentimes they’re not necessarily aware of the specific challenges facing our veterans. And so oftentimes it’s really about finding an expert in that space and engaging them to train others, or leveraging training that’s already out there to go around and help kind of educate providers in the area — same thing for career counselor training. We know that there is a huge asset and resource within higher education; but oftentimes they’re not necessarily well versed in the challenges that our vets are facing and the military spouses are facing. And so really it’s just a matter of providing them with the tools and the guidance so that they are more aware and can be of better benefit to the military community. Next slide. Here’s just a few more examples. So within family strength, you know, child care, employment, job fairs. And so really the promising practices provide ideas for meaningful things to do, but also provide a how to guide or a roadmap for actually how to do that locally, along with some ideas for success measures. So for instance, if you’re going to put on a job fair for veterans in your local community, you might want to make sure that you’re focusing on getting veterans and military spouses jobs. And so that should be your metrics for success. And so we provide guidance and tools for that as well. Next slide. So overall, we started with a problem; and I’ll stop here and say that we really do think that the Community Blueprint is a solution to many of those problems. We have been very transparent from the beginning. This model is not perfect; the tools are not perfect; none of this is perfect. But we have said from the very beginning as a collective group that we want whatever knowledge and resources and tools that we have to be put out there and given to the public and also provide a feedback loop so that we can learn how to make it better. But we do feel that what we have created together, collectively, does create community connections. It helps raise awareness locally and ensures shared leadership, which I think once again has contributed to the success of this model and of the initiative. It really helps move communities to action, so we encourage communities to pick a practice and move it forward. Get an easy win. And it really drives communities towards actions, helps avoid dislocation, and builds on existing community assets. And I think this one is my most favorite — is that it really works to engage the military community as the asset that they are and reserves a space for them at the table. And I think that oftentimes the message that we are getting in the public is really around veterans and military families as charity cases, and they’re not. They are huge civic assets inside communities and need to be a part of this conversation. And so I think that one of the values that we embrace as a collective — and hope that you do the same — is that these folks need to be at the table and helping to shape what meaningful response looks like inside their community. So we do believe that making sure that there’s opportunities for civilians and military to serve alongside each other, that that is of great importance to us. So this is a slide that I think just shows kind of managed chaos. And I think often — the first time I shared this slide with somebody, they were like, Holy cow, what is this? But I think generally the notion here is that we are complex individuals, and that complexity transcends inside our community. So this whole kind of model is really about bringing all of these pieces together so that they work as part of a larger network. So we know that inside communities we have volunteers. And we have the faith based community, and we have donors and people who want to fund initiatives, and we have organizations who are doing great work. So it’s really about kind of providing a framework and a platform for all of these things to come together to really better serve the military community, and we see that happening in these eight areas. The reason why you see volunteers in bolded here is because we feel like that is the way we are going to achieve all of the other work, because our communities are not getting infused with resources. We are very resource strapped, and so we know that we need to leverage volunteers as a platform in order to help move the needle on some of these larger issues. So there’s a few ways that communities can get involved. We understand that communities are kind of coming to this work from various perspectives. So we have a couple of our communities who are doing kind of our deep community engagement models, which is what is happening in Hampton Roads and Fayetteville. And that’s really been where you start from a place of not necessarily knowing the issues that exist, right? So you’re saying, Let’s really bring all the stakeholders together, have the conversation about what is happening in the space of employment, and how is that helping to meet the needs of veterans and military spouses? What is happening in the space of education? And so really just having that kind of broader conversation about who’s already working in this space, where are their gaps, where are their assets that can be leveraged, and creating a plan of action to in fact meet the needs, leveraging the assets, and working collectively as a group to help address those issues. So that’s the kind of deep engagement approach. The second is really, Pick a practice and do it. So if you want to hold a job fair, then here’s the help you’ve got; and by all means work with folks in your community who are engaged in the employment space and make it happen. So that’s a very easy — we know that not every community can do the deep-rooted engagement model; but at least they could pull this training off the web and go talk to their local schools about the need to be aware of the military children that exist in their school system. So there’s kind of a “grab and go” version, if you will, of this; or there can be a community that says, Well, we just want to tackle employment this year. And so they’re simply on employment, and so it’s somewhat modular in this instance. They can kind of pull tools and implement those. Then we have the hybrid approach, right? So communities who are doing that deep-rooted engagement, but also we want to get an easy lens, which is what Give an Hour did. And their community says, Yeah, they’re engaging the stakeholders. They’re having the conversation about what their community is already doing and where there are gaps, and that kind of stuff; but they also recognize that it’s really good to work together on a project and really build relationships and really gain momentum. And so they are implementing one, if not more, of the promising practices that first year. And then of course we feel that there are — once you start actually implementing the promising practices and/or convening your community, there will be volunteer opportunities and volunteer projects that come from that. So theoretically, this kind of structure will help seed the volunteer opportunity pipeline, if you will. So ideally, individuals will be able to go online and find a project that would connect with this local effort moving forward. Next slide. So where are we now? We are at a place where we have promising practices online. We have many more that will become available moving forward. We’ve launched this effort in 14 communities, and that looks very different in every community. Like I said, some communities are doing the very deep-rooted engagement approach, some communities are simply focused on one of the issue areas, and some are simply taking — I’m just going to do a job fair this year. And so it ranges as far as what people are doing, but we are working right now. We’ve maintained strong partnership with the White House Joining Forces initiative; the Corporation for National and Community Service, obviously; and we’re working on kind of our adoption strategy and thinking about how we get these tools and resources out there in front of people and get people mobilized around them. We’re thinking about people like the U.S. Chamber; they’re going to be in 400 communities for their Hiring Our Heroes program. And one of the things that they say is that employers are looking at them and saying, Hey, what else can we do? And community leaders are looking at them and saying, Hey, what else can we do? And so we’re going to be working with them on handing out the Blueprint in those communities so that they will have ideas for things that they can do when the Chamber leaves. So those are the types of things that we’re kind of thinking about doing. We’re working on having those conversations at a national level. And then obviously, we are working on securing funding because obviously we know that funding helps things move faster. So of course our goal is to help fund some of these efforts in local communities and provide a support structure around this. So not only do we have tools and resources, we have communities and experts that are doing this, but we are kind of creating a space for community leaders to get on the phone call once a month and chat about their challenges and their successes and points of why they’re taking ownership of documenting all of those and then feeding it back out to the sectors. So we’ll be doing that through obviously our website and our channels; but most importantly, leveraging things like the Knowledge Network that Margie will speak about — and hopefully you guys are all already aware of through the Corporation for National Community Services — so leveraging tools like that to really kind of push that out, the information and the things that we’re learning inside communities. Next slide. So where are we? These are the communities where there is some sort of Blueprint activity already existing. And once again I’ll say that some communities have moved full force ahead and have had tons of great success; others are just getting started. But the stars means that that is where we have a National Service Member represented, and we are hoping to leverage the Corporation for National Community Service moving forward so that we can have more stars on this chart and more communities on this chart. But the idea here is that we have some communities where we are providing some sort of resource to them so that they in fact can do this work. But some of these communities have approached Point of Light and said, Hey, your model sounds exactly like what we’re trying to do here in San Diego, for instance — or here in Dallas, for instance. And so they’ve connected with us and are just becoming part of this larger conversation and larger initiative. Just because I think that the problem that we’re seeing in the country is that lots of organizations are doing great work; but once again, it’s all over the place. And so I think that there’s a yearning for all of us to pick something and work together on it. And so I think that’s why we’re getting calls from folks to say, Hey, we want to be a part of it — only because it is an opportunity for them to connect in some way, shape, or form and have us tell our story together as part of the narrative of how communities and how organizations are responding and what we’re doing in service with veteran service members and their families. So, where are we going? Our long-term goals — by the end of 2014, we want to benefit 200 communities; and you’ll see that we want to engage over 20,000 veterans as mentors and volunteer leaders inside their communities and engaging over 500,000 volunteers. So those are our long-term goals. Our shorter-term goal is that we are going to be officially launching the Community Blueprint Network. We have the National Conference on Volunteering and Service coming up in June in Chicago; and we have a Community Blueprint Summit, which is a preconference event. And we’ve got some great speakers lined up for that, and it’s really going to be kind of a deep dive for leaders who are in fact wanting to think about how they do this inside their community — how they get started. That will be a place for them to do that. You can learn more about that summit at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service website; so if you just Google that, there’s more information there. We are going to continue to work with the Corporation as our national partner and think about how we can increase our capacity for doing this work. And then, of course, we’re hiring a veteran to lead this work moving forward. I’ve been a poser. I’ve been doing this since June, and I’m a military brat so this work really resonates with me; but I haven’t been there and done that. And so we really feel like we need to have a veteran to lead this work moving forward. So hopefully we will have someone onboard in the next couple of weeks. Next slide. So I’m going to stop there and see if we have some questions; I saw a few pop up in the Chat Box. So I’m going to try to get these myself; and, Nicki, if I miss one, just please chime in. So one question is, Can other national veteran agencies be added to the list? The answer to that is, Yes, definitely. This has always been a very big tent, larger initiative that we want everyone to join. I will in all transparency say that I’m starting to think about what that looks like. So we’ve been small enough where we’ve had an Advisory Council, which their role was really to provide guidance into the strategy and moving forward and really help Points of Light think about this work. And so I’m also seeing this opportunity to have a larger coalition — so not only have the Advisory Council who has a role of meeting with us monthly and providing guidance, but also creating this structure for this larger coalition of organizations to come together. So it’s something definitely that we’re thinking about; but, yes, if you’re interested, Anita, I’d love for you to type in the Chat Box; or I’ll give you my contact information in a minute and we can chat offline about that. And information about this slide — so if you didn’t receive the slides prior to this webinar, Nicki will definitely send out a follow up to everyone with this attachment; and it will also be posted on the website www.communityblueprintnetwork.org. And then Anita has a question about, How does this model connect with the CADCA Strategic Prevention Framework? So I’m going to need to — is there any way that we can unmute Anita’s line so that she can tell me a little bit more about the CADCA Strategic Prevention? Absolutely — actually, Anita’s name is not associated with her call in. I think you might have just hit #, Anita; would you be willing to type that into the Chat? Sorry about that. And maybe while we give Anita a couple minutes to do that, Tricia, there was another question that came privately to me from Renee that I’ll go on and read to you. Have you thought about working in collaboration with the National Guard, who is in communities throughout the country and is often involved with local community resources? National Guard Family Assistance Centers are located throughout the country — over 350 locations at this time. Also, many states run Inner City Family Assistance Committees that bring these organizations together. And I know you already talked about being more inclusive, but I don’t know if you want to talk about the National Guard in particular. Yes, I’m so grateful that that question came up because I actually saw Quentin Collins’ name in the Participant List. And so we are happy to say that we are in very close communication with the National Guard Bureau. They have some really exciting stuff coming out and transitioning what was formerly known as the ISFAC into what is going to be rebranded as Joining Community Forces Group. And so they have some really great goals moving ahead and thinking about how they can in fact do Blueprint work. I mean the ISFAC model is the Community Blueprint; I mean, it’s a similar structure. So I’ve been in close contact with Quentin in helping them and getting them to help us to think about how we can fuse these two initiatives together. So where there is an ISFAC for instance, then we will provide them with the Blueprint tools so that they can leverage those if they want. And if they are an ISFAC and they want to belong to the Community Blueprint Network — the bigger network — then we would love that as well. So I think there’s more to be discussed; but I want you to hear that, yes, those conversations are happening. And they have wonderful leadership over there at the National Guard Bureau, and so we’re excited to see what that partnership looks like moving forward. And there’s a place for the Corporation for National Community Service in there as well. So we’re all three having the conversation about what that partnership looks like. Thanks, Tricia. So Anita did send some more information. The CADCA is hosting VetCorps, and is a primary training arm for the drug free communities and is encouraging VetCorps sites to use their strategic prevention framework that includes assessment, planning, evaluation, and implementation protocols. And also I’ll add that another participant offered to speak to this issue too; so if you need more information, I’ll go on and unmute him or you can address what Anita added. Great. Now, I just wanted to confirm that that was the initiative that came from the Corporation for National Community Service in conjunction with — so I get where you are now. So I am still learning about what the goals are for VetCorps; but I do believe that there is strong potential there for collaboration and really better understanding what their goals are and what they’re footprint is going to be — and how many communities will there be VetCorps members and what specifically are their goals. And so I need to get smarter about that; so if you have more information about that, Anita, I would love to get that from you so that I can become smarter and connect with them to make sure that they’re aware of the Blueprint and see what we can do together. Thanks, Tricia. So a couple other questions just to help you track them here. We had a question from Cynthia about your mention of education. And she is wondering if there are specific communities are involved in the Network that are focused on school-aged children and drilling down even more on Special Education. Yes, so our partners right now when it comes to education — K through 12 — are Mary Keller over at the Military Child Education Coalition; and then of course, we have National Military Family Association and Blue Star Families, as well as America’s Promise Alliance. So those are our core partners right now when it comes to K through 12, but we definitely recognize that there is more to be done. And so I’m not sure if that helps or if you have suggestions for other folks that we need to have conversations with, but I would love to hear that. Thank you. Another question that popped up is Christina wondering whether you will be placing AmeriCorps members, I guess, at U.S. Chamber’s Hiring our Heroes program. I am not aware of that. One of the things that we’ve been talking with the Chamber about is that whenever they travel to communities, they’ve recognized in the beginning that not everybody was necessarily showing up well-equipped for the hiring fair. And so they needed things like child care; they needed things like a resume writing workshop before the hiring fair; mock interviews before the hiring fair — things of that nature. So those are like prime volunteer opportunities, that I think all of us can think about how we can provide those opportunities locally. So we’ve been thinking about leveraging AmeriCorps members inside organizations across the country to do the kind of job readiness type of stuff prior to the hiring fair coming; but I don’t think that we’ve thought about putting them inside the Chamber necessarily — but in definite partnership with the Chamber. Great, thank you. I don’t see any other questions coming through right now. We’ll give folks a little bit more time to type, and I might — we had a couple people offer to say a little bit more about that CADCA Prevention framework. So since we’ve got some time, I might go ahead and unmute Jeremy Foreman, who offered, and see if we can hear a little bit more about that while we give folks time to ask some more questions. So, Jeremy, I hope I’m not putting you on the spot. No, that’s fine; I’m actually sitting in front of it. CADCA is the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, so it’s an alliance of prevention-based organizations. The Strategic Prevention Framework is an initiative that came through the Department of Health and Human Services; and so the CDC actually uses it a lot towards prevention efforts to help prevent, delay, or reduce disability from chronic disease and illness specifically related to substance abuse and mental health. But it’s something that can be applied to any area of community problem solving. So you’ll see it used in health, in education, in workplace productivity, community engagement — that kind of stuff. As the other caller mentioned, there are five primary areas that the Strategic Prevention Framework focuses on — and so there’s assessment, capacity building, strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation. And then there are overlapping functions of building program sustainability and cultural confidence. And so it’s a great framework for how your community can engage in addressing the issues that it sees — and particularly with veterans’ issues, the mental health side of things and substance abuse, there’s some direct resources that are available through CADCA. Their website is www.cadca.org, and I’ll go ahead and put it in the Chat — the specific link directly to the Strategic Prevention Framework information. They’ve got lots of primers, and they’ve got some research and evaluation briefs and some toolkits that are available. They’re tested and tried, and your state might actually have a Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant. I think there are about 35 states that have had those. So there’s local resources in pretty much every community across the country that you can tap into if you’d like to use this particular model as your structure for accomplishing the work that your coalition or your local Community Blueprint might take on. Thanks so much, Jeremy, for jumping in; that was really helpful. And thank you also for posting the website. I’m going to go on and put you back on mute. We do have another question, Tricia, that popped in through the Q&A feature. From the list of the 55 organizations involved with Community Blueprint, this particular participant did not see the Military Order of the Purple Heart and is wondering if anyone has reached out to that organization for assistance and input. That’s a great question, and I do not have the list of organizations who have been involved since it’s inception in front of me; but that’s definitely something that I can research. But I think — maybe I’m assuming — but I think the intention for that question was really kind of encouraging us to reach out to them and making sure that they have a seat at the table. So I hear you, and I will definitely take that back and make that happen. Thanks, Tricia. Another question that came in while we were hearing from Jeremy — Regarding K through 12 organizations, what are some of the initiatives they’re engaged in? I know you talked about that a little bit. How can other organizations who are school focused assist? So this might have crossed timeframes with your earlier answer, but if there’s anything else you want to add about K through 12 involvement. Yes, one of the things that we’re thinking about inside Points of Light is the use of service and how that can be a tool with kids — military kids primarily. And I’m a military brat; I can attest to this. Transitioning from school to school was super difficult for me I know growing up. It’s hard to establish your roots, hard to engage in leadership skills because oftentimes, you know, you’re new to a community so you really don’t get the opportunity to run for Student Council. So we’ve been thinking about how to leverage service as a tool to really provide military kids with the opportunity to create groups through service inside their communities, create connections with other kids — that type of thing. And so if you have a pen and can jot this down — and maybe, Nicki, if you can put this into the Chat Box — if you go to our Generation On website, so it’s www.generationon.org, we have a boatload of tools and resources available for educators, for parents, and for community leaders who in fact want to leverage service as a strategy to help military kids — and civilian kids for that matter. So one of our models is through the Kids Care Club, so it’s establishing a club where kids identify service opportunities and projects that they engage in and they kind of serve alongside civilian kids. So it’s not the answer to your question; it’s one approach that I can say that we have some tools and resources for that I would encourage you to explore. But I think that there’s a lot more work to be done. And once again, this initiative is super new. We have some ideas for strategies around how to bridge some of the gaps and meet some of the needs for these kids, so we have in no way exhausted the list. And so we’re definitely going to be working with our national partners to help develop and create additional tools to guide communities. Great, thank you for that. I did post the www.generationon.org website, and I also shared a message from Quentin Collins about the Joint Community Forces initiative and what the National Guard is doing that went to all panelists. And, Quentin, I’m going to go ahead and unmute you and give you an opportunity if you want to jump in and add anything to that. So again, I hope I’m not putting you on the spot; but you are unmuted now. Well, thank you very much, Nicki; and I’m happy that I was able to join in on this. I notice you’ve got several people on here that I’ve crossed paths with in various areas. National Guard Bureau was part of the initiative program through the former Chairman’s Office on Strategic Communications to Families. And one of the things that was highlighted was what we used to refer to as the Inter-Service Family Assistance Committees or ISFACs. Realizing that ISFAC sounded very militaristic and was more like a top down, we talked with our State Family Program Directors Executive Council; and working with them, they agreed and they actually came up with the name Joining Community Forces, which is more apropos, grassroots community level activity from each community — be it a geographic location or a community of likeminded people — working together to create less confusion and more cohesion when it comes to collaborative messages and communication and remove a lot of duplicity. And working with our Office of Secretary of Defense Military Communities Family Policies — I think there’s two of them on this call as well — and we’ve been able to — this is not a program, this is just nothing more than a communications protocol working with Community Blueprint and looking forward to where we’re going ahead, because we are in the communities already. Thank you so much for jumping in. I also wanted to take an opportunity to acknowledge another comment that came in a couple times from Stefanie about our poll in the beginning. We did ask about veterans and military spouses, but not about military parents. So that’s a great point, Stefanie; and we’re going to add that next time we do a poll of this nature. So I just wanted to acknowledge your suggestion and welcome any military parents who are joining us. So I don’t see any more questions for you, Tricia, right now; and I know Margie wanted to spend a few minutes closing out the call with some announcements about some other resources that are available. So, Margie, I’m going to go on and invite you to do that. Great, thank you so much, Nicki; and thank you, Tricia, for your wonderful description of the Network. It’s really an interesting, happy problem we have — all of these resources out there at local, state, and county and national levels. And the coordination and collaboration that the Blueprint evidences is quite a wonderful example of a problem that’s being solved locally. And thank you too for those people who posted their questions and shared some of their resources on the Chat. And I’m particularly happy about that because we’re looking for other examples of roadmaps or models or tools or programs that have been successful at engaging veterans and military families particularly around increasing employment, housing, wellness, and opportunities and access for education. So if you are interested in either participating in a webinar with others or doing your own webinar, please e-mail me at [email protected] — and I put my e-mail address into the Chat Box. And I’d also like to ask you to consider joining the Veterans and Military Families Knowledge Network if you haven’t already done so. And if you’ve joined it and are kind of a lurker and haven’t kind of gotten yourself in there to put some comments in, we’re setting up a new forum that’s general. It doesn’t have a specific topic, so you can just throw in your thoughts and ideas there and start some conversations going about the things that are of interest to you and the needs that you have. And the person to contact for that is Laura Norvig, who is at the National Service Resource Center at ETR Associates; and Laura has put her contact information in the Chat Box as well. Again, if you have any challenges, you’ve got addresses in here; and we’ll make sure they come to you with the answers to some of these questions in a follow-up e-mail. But we really want you to know that we’re delighted to have you in this Network. This is what it’s all about — the sharing among practitioners; and we look forward to seeing you and hearing you on May 30th, when we’ll be featuring the American Legion Auxiliary Bob Reeg and also Theresa Long, who is a Corporation for National and Community Service State Office Director. They’re going to be talking about veteran service organizations and the ins and outs of what they are, how to access them, and the services and opportunities afforded in those kinds of connections. So I’d like to just say thank you again for participating, and we look forward to seeing you next month. Take care, everyone. Thanks, Margie; and thank you, Tricia; and thanks, everyone, for joining us.
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