Project Opportunity was founded on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 2010 as an alternative to traditional employment for veterans and to combat the high veteran unemployment rate within the State of Maryland. The strategy was to pilot the program on the Eastern Shore and if it proved to be successful to explore options to expand to other areas within Maryland.
In 2013 Project Opportunity, partnering with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation, received a grant from the Wal Mart Foundation in the amount of $25,000.00 which was used to allow expansion of the program by providing courses in Annapolis, Columbia, and Southern Maryland. Additional funding sources were obtained to sustain these classes.
In the Fall of 2016 Project Opportunity was contacted by the Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Services located in Baltimore to discuss the possibility of conducting a class for their customers. We received a $5000.00 grant from the VA Maryland Health Care System Vocational Rehabilitation Services Compensated Work Therapy Program which was used towards conducting a class for Disabled and Homeless Veterans in the Baltimore Region. Additional funding sources were obtained to continue classes in the Baltimore area with a class being held each year in the Fall.
In 2018 we were able to secure funding to conduct our first class in Prince George’s County which was held in the Spring of 2019 with twelve (12) veterans graduating. We have formed a partnership with Employ Prince George’s for funding to continue classes in Prince George’s County.
Project Opportunity has been able to secure funding to sustain all the current class levels and is was to expand again with an initial class in Harford County scheduled for the Spring 2021 Class Schedule.
Project Opportunity has received a total of $153,862.00 in funding since July 1, 2017. PNC , Truist Bank, and the Kahlert Foundation have become annual sponsors of our program. We have received grants from the Safeway Foundation, Rural Maryland Council, Tri County Council of Southern Maryland, Overwatch Alliance, the Lower Shore Workforce Alliance, the Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation, TowerCares Foundation and The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore. We have received sponsorships from Employ Prince George’s, Inc., TEDCO, St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development, Charles County Department of Economic Development, Calvert County Department of Economic Development, the Allegis Group Foundation, Wells Fargo, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, Army Alliance APG, APG Federal Credit Union, fraternal organizations, and private sector businesses.
Project Opportunity received a three-year grant in the amount of $308.584.00 from the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation starting January 1, 2020 to allow for expansion of our program. This new funding will allow us to:
- Provide business counseling and mentoring to our graduates.
- Provide professional development workshops and seminars for both our graduates and Veteran small business owners
- Establish an Entrepreneurship Course for Military Spouses
- Conduct an Annual Business Pitch Competition with $20,000.00 in award money for Project Opportunity Graduates