Veterans’ Entrepreneurship Bootcamp Expands Its Reach

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In 2007, Mike Haney, a professor in the Whitman School of Management and a U.S. Air Force veteran, established the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) to help veterans rebuild their lives and economic potential by developing the skills needed to launch a small business. The program was such a success, it’s now offered by a growing number of colleges and universities across the country.

In 2009, EBV received a major boost from successful entrepreneur and businessman Ted Lachowicz ’72. Recognizing that in addition to a great education and strong mentoring, vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan need seed money to start their own businesses, Lachowicz created a venture capital fund called the EBV Foundation.

“You read about the thousands of lives lost, but you don’t read about the significant number of veterans who are wounded or disabled,” says Lachowicz. “When I talk with vets about how to start a business, it is rewarding to see the excitement in their eyes.”

That excitement has prompted others to become involved as well. Dan ’60 and Kathleen Mezzalingua ’62 created the Mezzalingua Family Fund to cover the cost of the vets’ travel expenses, lodging, course materials, and instruction. And through a unique initiative called the Dream Machine, recycling beverage containers will now provide the EBV program with substantial financial support.

A joint effort by PepsiCo and Waste Management, the Dream Machine encourages recycling by enabling consumers to collect and redeem points for each bottle or can they recycle in a Dream Machine kiosk. The more containers recycled, the more support PepsiCo will contribute to EBV for career training, education, and job creation for returning U.S. veterans.

Although the EBV is now offered by an expanding network of worldclass business schools, the demand for spots in the program exceeds the supply. PepsiCo’s support—at least $1.5 million over the next three years, with an additional $250,000 for every 10 million pounds of containers collected—will enable the program to further extend its reach.