Military Nonprofit Provides $10 Million in Grants to Children
The nonprofit organization Our Military Kids celebrated two milestones this month in its quest to help National Guard and Military Reserve children participate in extracurricular activities during a parent’s deployment. On January 3, the organization provided its 25,000th grant award, and January 12 marked $10 million distributed in the organization’s six-year history.
Our Military Kids was founded in 2004 shortly after the wars began in Iraq and Afghanistan to help National Guard and Military Reserve children, who do not live on or near military bases where there is ready access to support services. Since its inception, the grant program has expanded to include the children of Wounded Warriors of all branches of the military.
“Deployment is difficult for the entire family, especially the children, and it’s wonderful to see so many people taking advantage of this valuable resource,” said Linda Davidson, Executive Director and cofounder of Our Military Kids. “Grants from Our Military Kids provide children with a positive distraction and keep them involved in their communities, and at the same time recognize the sacrifices they make every day while dad or mom is serving our country.”
In 2005, Our Military Kids’ first full year in operation, 60 children – all living in Virginia – received grants totaling $17,585. Since then, the program has grown exponentially. In 2010, Our Military Kids provided more than 10,000 grants worth over $4.2 million to children in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. This is a nearly 30 percent increase from the prior year.
“Our Military Kids fills a gap in support services for thousands of military children,” said Frederick C. Smith, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Our Military Kids. “When I joined the Board of Directors, I knew it was only a matter of time before this program became a widely-used and valuable resource for Guard and Reserve families. The countless thank-you notes we receive are evidence of the grant program’s worthiness and effectiveness.”
Our Military Kids conducted a survey in July 2010 of Army National Guard grant recipients. The results show 80 percent of respondents reporting increased anxiety in their children during a deployment, and 94 percent indicated that participation in the activity benefited their children. Additionally, almost every respondent said the Our Military Kids program contributed to improved morale for the Service Member and his or her family.