Volunteer Florida, the Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service in Florida, announced a new program today to provide direct support to Veterans in Duval County. VetSuccess will put Volunteer Florida’s AmeriCorps members to work at college campuses across Duval County to help Veterans transition into civilian and college life, achieve academic success, and find good jobs upon graduation. Communities In Schools (CIS) of Jacksonville will serve as the subgrantee.

“We are thrilled to work with Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, a longtime Volunteer Florida grantee, to launch this new initiative,” said Chester Spellman, CEO of Volunteer Florida. “By putting AmeriCorps members to work to assist students who are Veterans, we are maximizing their abilities to excel on campus and successfully find a good job after graduation. This kind of partnership is what national service is all about.”

Volunteer Florida’s VetSuccess on Campus program will combine the resources, expertise, and infrastructure of CIS Jacksonville and AmeriCorps. VetSuccess will mobilize AmeriCorps members in service to:

• Increase Veterans’ academic performance
• Ensure a more effective adjustment to the campus environment
• Help Veterans find jobs and succeed in their careers after graduation

Randy Hanna, Chancellor of the Florida College System, said, “We look forward to working with Volunteer Florida and CIS of Jacksonville, who will provide services to at least 300 Veterans on our campuses. Ensuring a smooth transition to college life, supporting academic excellence, and developing successful career paths for life after graduation are among our top priorities for student Veterans.”

“This collaborative program aligns with the services and support that Florida State College at Jacksonville currently provides through our Military and Veterans Service Center,” said Florida State College at Jacksonville President Dr. Cynthia A. Bioteau. “Adding further to these unique supports will allow even greater success to our Veteran students, indeed a top priority for FSCJ.”

Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) said, “We know that Florida businesses are eager to hire Veterans, whose work ethic and dedication is unparalleled. The best way to match Veterans with job opportunities is to ensure that Veterans on campus are given every tool to excel. This partnership will make that happen.”

Rep. Jimmie T. Smith (R-Inverness), an Army Veteran who serves as Vice Chair of the House Veteran and Military Affairs Subcommittee and led the passage of the 2014 Florida G.I. Bill, said, “Veterans returning home and transitioning to higher education can experience a number of challenges that can cause them to fall behind their peers. Putting AmeriCorps members on campus to assist with their academic performance, help them succeed in the workplace, and provide community fellowship is an outstanding way to put national service to work for our nation’s heroes.”

Col. Mike Prendergast, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs, said, “As we continue to work to make Florida the most Veteran-friendly state in the nation, public-private partnerships like the Volunteer Florida/CIS Jacksonville initiative are critical. We are increasingly looking to Volunteer Florida and national service to assist in our efforts.”

Jim Bagby, chairman of the Florida is for Veterans, Inc. Board of Directors, said, “This partnership is an excellent way to put national service to work in Florida so that Veterans on college campuses will have better opportunities to develop their workforce skills. We look forward to working with Volunteer Florida to expand this model.”

Steve Gilbert, CEO of Communities In Schools of Jacksonville, said, “We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Volunteer Florida and AmeriCorps to more effectively connect Veterans to job opportunities. A successful higher education experience for Veterans means a greater likelihood of career advancement.”

Volunteer Florida is the Governor’s lead agency for volunteerism and national service in Florida. Volunteer Florida grants funds to educational foundations, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations to administer AmeriCorps and National Service Programs. Volunteer Florida leads Florida’s national days of service, including September 11 and Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. During disasters, Volunteer Florida is the lead agency for volunteers and donations. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.