Announcing the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge

This article was originally published on the Council on Foundations website on 2 May 2014. The original article can be found here.

This week, at the American Red Cross national headquarters, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden joined Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill, Chairman of the Board of the American Red Cross Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, senior government officials, military leaders, and foundation executives from across the country to announce the Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge.

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The pledge—initiated by Blue Shield of California Foundation, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation—creates a community of funders and builds momentum for programs that will support service members, veterans and their families, in local communities as the country draws down from twelve years of war.

In her remarks, Spruill reiterated the Council’s ongoing commitment to this important national priority, saying “As our men and women in uniform come home, philanthropy stands beside them to help them carry their mission forward into their communities and hometowns. The foundations in this room have funded programs that create affordable housing, that provide new health interventions, that address domestic violence, and that expand economic opportunities for veterans and military families. Many in the philanthropy community are addressing the needs and gaps in services, but there is still much more to be done.”

Spruill and the First Lady also unveiled the new Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, an unprecedented clearinghouse for philanthropic funders to share best practices. In her speech, which you can watch on WhiteHouse.gov, Mrs. Obama highlighted the importance and impact of philanthropy.

“Whenever our country has needed to tackle an issue like this, we’ve looked not only to businesses and governments for solutions, but we look to our generous philanthropic organizations as well,” said the First Lady. “Throughout our history, we’ve seen donors and foundations step up again and again to help us overcome the challenges we’ve faced as a country. Whether its building schools in the segregated south, funding AIDS research, or addressing poverty and homelessness, our philanthropic institutions have always played a huge role in creating positive change.

“I am thrilled to announce that the Council on Foundations is continuing that tradition by extending that same kind of energy and support to our troops, veterans and their families long after our wars are over,” she continued. “They’re bringing together benefactors from across the country to create a stronger national funding structure for groups that support our military families. It’s called the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, and it’s going to allow these groups to do a number of things—share best practices, create new resources, recruit even more donors to support our military families in the years ahead.”

The First Lady and Dr. Biden reinforced the importance of philanthropy in this effort with an op-ed to the military community published in Military Times.

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