NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- In honor of Veterans Day 2015, Avis and Bruce Richards announced the launch of the "Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge," hosted on the charitable fundraising website Crowdrise.com. The challenge seeks to supplement the tremendous work accomplished by the Post-9/11 GI Bill and help fund higher education among returning veterans. Every dollar donated to the challenge between Veterans Day 2015 and Veterans Day 2016 will be matched dollar-for-dollar by Avis and Bruce Richards, up to $1 million in total, as announced by Birds Nest Foundation.
"As Americans, we owe everything to these fine men and women who risk their lives to protect our freedom and safety," said Bruce Richards, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Partner of Marathon Asset Management. "While Veterans Day is an important day to pay tribute to those who have served our nation, we believe all of us should consider what more we can do to honor our troops. The Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge creates a valuable new avenue for Americans to pay-it-forward and help give our veterans the wonderful opportunity and encouragement to gain a college degree."
Avis Richards, founder of Birds Nest Foundation, added: "The loyalty and dedication of veterans who help defend our country often go on to serve in both the public and private sectors, but sometimes need financial assistance to pursue their undergraduate and graduate education. It's my hope that funds raised by the Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge will allow many veterans to reenter academic life in order to best access a broad range of careers."
In addition to the $1 million pledge for the Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge, the Richards also announced they will donate $1 million to the University of Maryland specifically earmarked to provide scholarships for veterans at the school. The gift will be officially delivered to the University at a ceremony on November 21, 2015, with 1,000 veterans expected to attend.
Linda M. Clement, Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Maryland added: "We are so incredibly grateful to Bruce and Avis for their strong commitment to student veterans at the University of Maryland. Their passion, advocacy and philanthropic support will transform the lives of so many UMD veteran students."
There are nearly 1.4 million men and women who serve in the United States' armed forces today1, and approximately 50,000 leave the military on an annual basis2, many of which seek to complete their college education. In fact, 4 percent of all college students are veterans.3 However, veterans' college completion rate is more than 7 percent lower than the national average4. This gap exists for a myriad of reasons including veterans' family and employment obligations, as a higher percentage have families (47 percent) and work full- and/or part-time while attending college5.
Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, more than 1 million veterans have been helped and more than $30 billion in tuition funding has been distributed, but more is needed. The goal of the Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge is to reinforce veterans' rights to earn higher educations and live successful, happy lives. This initiative will support tuition, room and board, and other related and allowable living expenses for veterans seeking higher educations. All scholarships awarded under the program will be based on financial need with a priority and preference given to veterans in good standing during their years of service and at their respective universities.
To learn more about the Veterans' Education $1 Million Matching Challenge and contribute please visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/veteranseducationchallenge.
1 According to the United States Department of Defense.
2 According to the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
3 According to the National Conference for State Legislatures.
4 According to the National Center for Education Statistics.
5 According to the National Conference for State Legislatures.
SOURCE Birds Nest Foundation