The 2014 Community Impact Awards: Yellow Ribbon

October 21, 2014

NICK HORTON

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WINNER

Boots to Shoes Foundation

Kirkland

The military veteran preparing to enter the civilian workforce faces many challenges. Aside from the competitive nature of todays job market, its often difficult for veterans to translate their military work experience into private-sector terminology. And while the militarys own Transition Assistance Programs may offer a modicum of help, many veterans benefit greatly from one-on-one assistance in creating a job-search strategy.

This is where the Boots to Shoes (BTS) Foundation steps in. BTS is an innovative nonprofit mentorship program that connects job-seeking veterans with professional mentors from a variety of fields, including finance, technology, logistics and human resources. BTS mentors are paired with veterans who share both geographical proximity and professional interests. Veterans and mentors commit to a six-month partnership, with the tandem meeting at least twice a month to create a search strategy, prepare for interviews and measure progress.

BTS cofounder Tricia Stromberg says, We thought we can do this. We can go find businesspeople who are interested in volunteering and put them together with veterans. And so we did a pilot program and it did very well and here we are.

Since its founding in 2010, BTS has matched more than 300 veterans with some 120 mentors, many of whom find the experience so rewarding that they return for second and third mentorships. The ultimate measure of success: Several veterans helped by BTS have become mentors themselves.