The Military Spouse JD Network Foundation is proud to announce that it was selected by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families to support their Community Navigator Pilot Program, funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The competitive grant program, established as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will assist small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

IVMF was named as one of only eight Tier 1 grantees, selected as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program. The $5 million grant to the IVMF will support veteran and military spouse businesses with entrepreneurship education, small business technical assistance, loan preparation, access to capital/capital readiness, corporate and federal contracting, and networking.  MSJDNF has received a $260,000 sub-award to work with the IVMF to provide prepaid legal assistance and educational programs at no cost to veteran business owners.

MSJDN President Kristen Jones, who worked with President Elect Lyndsay Lujan to apply for the grant, says “I am thrilled by the opportunity to work with the IVMF to bring culturally competent legal services and education to veteran business owners. Not only does this work support vetprenuers’ success, it creates business opportunities for MSJDN member attorneys, who are often themselves entrepreneurs excited to expand their reach.” This is the largest grant in MSJDN’s ten-year history and will directly further MSJDN’s mission to support military spouses in the legal profession. The bulk of funds will be used to pay MSJDN member practitioners to provide legal services to veteran business owners through this new initiative with the IVMF.

“This is truly exciting for IVMF and MSJDNF. Over the next two years, this program has the potential to impact thousands of veterans and families we serve,” says Michael Haynie, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives & Innovation, Barnes Professor of Entrepreneurship and IVMF Executive Director. “It is also wonderful recognition of IVMF’s and MSJDNF’s partnership to provide veteran entrepreneurship education programs. This broadens our national impact, having developed a vast network of alumni and partners who are dedicated to meeting the unique needs of veterans and military-connected families,” says Haynie.

MSJDNF will be able to draw on IVMF’s best practices delivering cost free entrepreneurship programs like Boots to Business (B2B), Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE), and the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV), among others, that have assisted more than 75,000 participants.

During the pandemic, the IVMF also launched two new virtual entrepreneurship programs, EBV Spark and R.I.S.E. (Resilience, Innovate, Sustain, Evaluate), to help veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs adapt their businesses to the current operating environment.

In applying for the grant, the IVMF noted strong partnerships with businesses that can help veterans achieve success. In addition to MSJDNF, the IVMF will be coordinating the work with key partners, including Texas A&M, Florida State University, St. Joseph’s University, Dog Tag Bakery and StreetShares, as well as others. Whether through direct technical support, training or networking, the entrepreneurs assisted by IVMF programs have demonstrated resilience and success; 92% are still operating their business today.

Haynie says IVMF research highlights how veterans face an array of barriers in attempting to launch businesses, including a fragmented ecosystem, capital readiness, difficulty navigating resources, certification process hurdles and lack of assistance from medical and disability service providers. He believes the new pilot program offers a unique solution that provides a navigation and support mechanism to strengthen the ecosystem, nurture entrepreneurial aspirations and sustain growth and success.

“The goal is for military-connected clients to receive efficient, timely, and comprehensive access to the services and resources they need, where they are and when they need them in their entrepreneurial journey,” says Haynie.