Travis Manion Foundation -- $20,000 Serving San Diego Youth Through Character and Leadership Education
The purpose of this grant award was to support Travis Manion Foundation’s Character Does Matter (CDM) program in San Diego, CA. TMF’s Character Does Matter program is an ongoing veteran-led youth development program that trains military Veteran Mentors to empower youth to become leaders and change agents in their communities. Over the course of this grant period, TMF aimed to impact approximately 3,625 local youth through Character Does Matter’s character presentations and Character & Leadership Courses.
Travis Manion Foundation ultimately reached 869 San Diego youth through in-person Character Does Matter engagements over the course of the grant period and approximately 1,000 youth through virtual components of the program. Though the overall number of youth reached is less than originally anticipated, this was due in large part to challenges related to coordinating in-person programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. One unintended benefit of the COVID-19 pandemic and these lower impact numbers is that it enabled our programs team to delve deeper with participating youth through multi-session Character and Leadership Courses, keeping youth engaged during the challenging times of the pandemic and limiting social isolation. These engagements included collaborations with Operation Hero After School Program and the Armed Services YMCA, a partnership with the USO of San Diego, multiple events with the students of STAR/PAL school year and summer program, and college prep projects with University of San Diego’s TRIO Upward Bound programming for first generation high school students. One of our largest and most successful partnerships in 2021 included the Leadership Academy department from the USS Midway as we engaged in Summer and Fall Character Does Matter programming with students from the STAR/PAL program. We engaged the youth in a beach cleanup, weekly programming during the summer, team building excursions (such as K1 racing and going to SeaWorld). We also had youth participate in our Back-to-School initiative where Veteran Mentors provided backpacks filled with pens, notebooks, binders, etc. to help their families get them ready for school.
Over the next five years, Travis Manion Foundation aims continue to develop and implement a strategy to incentivize young adults to take action following their participation in Character Does Matter and ensure that we are capturing their ongoing community impact.