Every month, we usually bring you a story about a scholarship recipient and the effect that support has had on their life. However, we wouldn’t be able to provide these scholarships if it wasn’t for the generosity of our donors. The people who give to our organization make everything we do possible, making our dreams — to help veterans not only transition back to civilian life, but thrive — a reality.

In 2015, we reached out to the Graham foundation for a grant that would fund a number of scholarships through Greenville Tech. They responded in kind, providing $20,000 in September of 2015. Steve Lambert, a trustee of the foundation, talked to us about why they chose to provide this grant.

Sam and Steve

Sam Lambert (left) and Steve Lambert (right)

“We look first of all to see if an organization is meeting a critical need. We have a particular interest in supporting veterans… they are a group of people that we particularly value and whose wellbeing we particularly care about.”

Steve may be a little biased. His son, Sam, is a veteran sapper from the US army, rank E5. He cares deeply about veterans, admitting that “I owe my freedom to them”.

Sam and Captain

Sam’s captain (left) and Sam (right)

That care must be contagious, because it is felt by all at the Graham Foundation. They appreciate organizations that “meet people where they are and help them help themselves achieve their potential.”

They also recognize the lack of support for veterans when they return home, believing that it is “critically important that when they leave the service that they don’t fall behind, don’t fall through the cracks.”

Collaborating for Even Greater Impact

When we applied for the grant in 2015, Upstate Warrior Solution happened to be applying at the same time. They needed to identify veterans in need, and we needed to provide scholarships. In response, the Graham Foundation asked us to submit a joint application.

Through that application we were able to lay out how we would work together to impact our community; Upstate Warrior Solution would proactively identify scholarship candidates through their outreach program, then connect them with us to provide the scholarships. This worked well for both our organizations, and was one of the reasons the Graham Foundation provided support.

“One of the things we really appreciated about VSF is their willingness to see a bigger picture and be collaborative. That’s a very important value of ours; we seek to collaborate when we can, and we encourage our grantees to do the same.”

Looking Forward

As we continue to grow and provide scholarships to veterans in need, we must remember those that make our work possible. Doing so, we can recognize what has made us successful and how we can achieve long-term success. Funding is just one part of that equation, but it’s an important one. The Graham Foundation understands this philosophy.

“We work to not only help

[philanthropic organizations] achieve their short-term goals, but help them become stronger organizations over time. We’re in this together; we only provide one piece of this big puzzle, money, which doesn’t mean anything on its own. Our money only achieves impact when it’s used by people who do good work.”

Interested in acquiring a grant from the Graham Foundation? They are accepting letters of intent until September 1st, so visit their website to find out more and apply.