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The Kahlert Foundatino

Project OpportunitySM was awarded a grant in the amount of $10,000.00 from the Kahlert Foundation to provide classes during 2019.

Project OpportunitySM is a free entrepreneurship training program which has been designed solely for veterans, active duty, and reserve personnel who want to start a small business. The prerequisite for those who wish to be considered to participate is they must have a solid idea of what business venture they want to start because the course is designed to develop and complete a comprehensive business plan instead of exploring the possibility of entrepreneurship. The program is a 10 week (30 hour) intensive cohort style course designed to prepare participants to research and complete a business plan.

The program also accepts veterans who have a small business and are looking to expand. The prerequisite for these candidates is they must demonstrate the need to expand their marketing efforts or the need to review and revise their financial plan.

Project OpportunitySM was awarded the Veteran Small Business Champion Award by the SBA Baltimore District Office in 2014. It provides veterans an alternative to traditional employment and offers them a chance to hone and utilize the skills and training they received while on active duty. Entrepreneurship is an excellent path for many veterans to choose and we are looking to expand our course offerings in the State of Maryland. Project OpportunitySM currently has a total of 253 veterans on the interest list for future classes, many in regions where we have not yet been able to establish Project OpportunitySM due to funding constraints. The generosity of the Kahlert Foundation allows us to conduct our first class in Prince George’s County where there are 82 veterans on the interest list.

Project OpportunitySM has had a total of 46 businesses registered with the Maryland Department of Business and Taxation creating a total of 171 jobs.

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Safeway Foundation

Reprinted with permission. The original press release can be found here.

Lanham, MD — Safeway Foundation in Safeway’s Eastern Division, continuing its long history of recognizing the enormous sacrifices made by our veterans, has awarded $321,000 in grants to support 17 local organizations serving veterans. Funds were raised during the grocer’s annual Veteran’s campaign.

Throughout the month of October, Safeway stores in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware asked customers to “Support Our Veterans,” collecting customer donations at registers to help fund programs that provide local veterans with assistance in career training, stress counseling, social activities and rehab programs, and support to the families of fallen soldiers.

“Safeway Foundation and our local Safeway stores want to thank our customers for generously supporting this important cause,” said Tom Lofland, Safeway Eastern Division President.  “We believe that our veterans’ sacrifice and service should be honored, and we are proud to help support their transition back into civilian life.”

Program parameters for the Safeway Foundation grant applicants include supporting Veterans as they gain access to civilian employment; providing access to health care and support groups for Veterans and their families, and supporting the families of fallen heroes.

Among recipients, Goodwill Industries, Maryland Center for Veteran Employment & Training, Project OpportunitySM and The Washington Center will utilize funding for programs that provide career training, advice and resources for veterans. American Humane will utilize funds to support a program, Pups4Patriots, which rescues unwanted dogs in need of homes and trains them to become lifesaving service animals for military veterans struggling with the invisible wounds of war, including Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

The Veterans Day campaign is just one of the many vital outreach campaigns that Safeway Foundation and Safeway stores undertake each year. In 2017, Safeway Foundation in Safeway’s Eastern Division invested more than $1.4 million in its communities.

Following are the veteran’s organizations receiving grants:

  • American Humane Society
  • Blue Star Families, Inc.
  • Central Union Mission
  • Easter Seals Serving DC/MD/VA
  • Goodwill Industries of The Chesapeake, Inc.
  • Hero Dogs
  • Home Away Transitional Services
  • Hylton Performing Arts Center
  • Maryland Center for Veteran Employment & Training
  • Project OpportunitySM (Tri-County Council Foundation, Inc.)
  • Rebuilding Together DC/Alexandria
  • Sekhem Health Healing
  • The Mission Continues
  • The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars
  • U.S. Veteran Initiative (USVETS)
  • USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore
  • United Way of Central Maryland

About Safeway Foundation

Safeway Foundation, part of Albertsons Companies Foundation, supports causes that impact our customers’ lives. Our stores provide the opportunity to mobilize funding and create awareness in our neighborhoods through generous contributions by our customers, our employees’ passion, and partnerships with our vendors. We focus on giving locally in the areas of health and human services, hunger relief, education, veterans and helping people with disabilities. Safeway Foundation in Safeway’s Eastern Division invested more than $1.4 million in our neighborhoods in 2017. More information about Safeway Foundation can be found at


Media Contacts:

Beth Goldberg (Safeway) – 202.450.9688 ([email protected])

Kerry Lynn Bohen (BWF Communications) – 703.533.4823 ([email protected])

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Mark R. Smith, a Senior Writer for The Business Monthly published this article for the December 2019 issue of The Business Monthly,

What’s Next for Vets? For some, it’s business ownership – PDF Version, and the online article can be found here.

Reprinted with permission.

Robert Worthington, an Air Force veteran, worked as an air traffic controller with the military and as a civilian. He wanted to make a career switch.

Thinking about what he loved – teaching kids the basics of basketball – was the easy part. Figuring out how to turn that passion into a successful business was a daunting task.

Worthington is one of many veterans who want to work for themselves once they retire but many are unclear how to make a dream become reality. With help from a statewide program called Project OpportunitySM, Worthington founded the Columbia based Hoops Drills For Skills Basketball (HCFS) Camp.

He knows he couldn’t have arrived at his current happy station in life simply on sweat equity running the youth basketball program that also includes camps and travel teams.

‘A Roadmap’

As someone “who is passionate about what I do, I still had no way to know what I had to do to make my business a success,” Worthington said. “Project OpportunitySM provided a roadmap about how to turn that passion into a business. It also gave me an opportunity to network with many professionals,” including a videographer who shot and edited videos used in tournaments and created three promo videos.

Project OpportunitySM “is a fantastic way to go,” Worthington said of Joe Giordano’s program.

Giordano founded Project OpportunitySM in 2010. The retired master sergeant gradually built the nonprofit and now offers classes all around Maryland.

“We see an increase in interest from veterans in becoming entrepreneurs every year,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve seen some of these small, veteran-run businesses hit the wall, so we help those owners redirect with a 30-hour course where we teach how to research, write and finalize a comprehensive business plan.”

And the retired vets can’t beat the price.

“It’s free of charge,” Giordano said, noting that some organizations make donations and offer grants as do private foundations and corporate sponsors like BB&T and PNC Bank, which also provide subject matter experts in the areas of commercial lending and cash flow analysis.

“The economy is great and the number of small businesses is growing so we expect to see individuals who have great ideas make them come to life,” he said, pointing to Project Opportunity’s extensive network that include state agencies, economic development entities and fraternal organizations.

Project OpportunitySM uses the Next Level training program, which draws on theories from psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, sociology and organizational development to create transformation in individuals and teams and presents subject matter experts such as certified public accountants, lawyers and marketing professionals. Some are ex-military, but all have an active interest in military service through families and friends.

Time for Redirection

Chuck Davis, a U.S. Navy vet and 2014 Project OpportunitySM grad, found himself at a career crossroads several years ago after retiring from UPS and wanted a more flexible schedule. He was a physical therapist and and is currently owner of Kiss My Glass in Annapolis, found out about Project OpportunitySM via an article after he’d founded his company.

“I was feeling good about the business, had researched it enough, had a great concept and a foundation for my business model, but I lacked a plan of growth,” said Davis. “So, I knew how to start it but not how to build it and I knew I needed that roadmap.”

As it turned out, Project OpportunitySM “was everything I thought it would be. That it was designed for vets made it even more interesting. My biggest takeaway was that every speaker wanted to be there and was thankful for our service.”

Project OpportunitySM is just one option in the region where vet entrepreneurs can get a kickstart for their businesses. The state of Maryland runs the Veteran-Owned Small Business Enterprise Program.

By law, that program calls for more than 50 agencies to direct at least one percent of expenditures to small businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and/or controlled by a veteran. The program is about six years old and in fiscal 2018, state agencies and programs “accounted for two percent” of the spend, said the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs spokesperson Alison Tavik.

“The program offers subcontracting procurement opportunities for the state,” said Tavik, noting that 2019 is the state’s Year of the Veteran.

To expand the program, legislation would be needed to increase the required 1 percent. “So today, we’re making veterans aware of the opportunity at hand and building our base of vendors. Our office never met the goal in six years before fiscal 2018. It was a great achievement in that relatively short length of time.”

Opening Doors

In Howard County, Lisa Terry, manager of the Office of Veterans and Military Families, said the number of vet-owned businesses “is increasing, especially given the number of the defense contractors and sub-contractors in the area.”

Howard County offers the Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise program and Terry said one percent of total procurement funding is set aside for vet-certified businesses by the Veteran’s Administration.

Like Giordano, she feels that veterans “are more likely to enter the workplace as entrepreneurs because they have a bigger cause in mind, leadership skills and are dependable.”

She said, “Entrepreneurship also provides a chance for service-disabled vets to pursue meaningful careers,” adding that support will increase from the MCE as well as the Small Business Administration, economic development authorities and incubators that support entrepreneurs.

Coming Soon

Coming up on the Project OpportunitySM agenda next spring is a class in Howard County that will be held in Columbia Gateway Business Park at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE), which is providing training.

Larry Twele, CEO of the Howard County Economic Development Authority, said the county is home “to nearly 16,000 veteran residents who bring unique skills, experience and leadership to
our entrepreneurial landscape. We assist many veteran-owned companies to support their venture success in our business incubator and even more through our Catalyst Loan Fund. Supporting Project OpportunitySM through the Innovation Center.”