Scaling for Success: Nonprofit Hire Our Heroes Helps with Veteran Employment
In 2013, WDG worked with local nonprofit Hire Our Heroes to reposition their online brand through hireourheroes.org, as part of WDG’s GiveBack DC initiative. The results, says founder Dan Caporale, were unbelievable. We are working to scale their brand in order to match their newfound success. Our team sat down with Caporale to talk about how Hire Our Heroes helps veterans across the country find successful employment in the corporate world.
What is the career transition experience like for veterans?
As a Marine Corps veteran, Sergeant Caporale thought his unique skillset would help him easily transition to a new career after leaving the service. Reality was quite different. “When I left the Marine Corps, I found that all the skills and investment the government put into me really didn’t translate well into the corporate world,” he explains.
After landing in the staffing industry, Caporale founded and eventually sold a successful staffing company. As one of the only veterans there, he often received veteran resumes because of his unique experience. Caporale quickly became known as the “go-to” guy for veterans. “It was a way for me to give back to my brothers and sisters in the service,” he adds. What started as a hobby soon became his passion.
How did Hire Our Heroes begin?
Though Caporale moved away from Washington, DC after successfully selling his staffing company, he found his way back into the DC business world as a turnaround specialist by putting organizations on the path to success. Here, he was introduced to Master Gunnery Sergeant Tim Kirk.
He was so impressed with Kirk’s pedigree that he hired him to launch and lead the Government Services division of his company. Kirk established a core focus on developing collaborative partnerships with key personnel, conducted needs analysis, and matched candidates and resources to requirements. It was Kirk who first suggested turning Caporale’s passion into a nonprofit, but Caporale never felt it was the perfect time.
A few weeks later, Caporale received a call that would change everything. His former commanding officer reached out after over 30 years in the service, asking for help transitioning to the civilian workforce. After talking with his former CO, Caporale made a decision. He hung up the phone and walked straight to Kirk’s office.
“I think the stars are aligned. Let’s do it,” he said. In that moment, Hire Our Heroes was born.
Along with Vice Chairman and Co-Founder Kirk, Caporale and a host of volunteers worked to provide a wide variety of services for veterans with the central goal to shape, mold, and mentor them for success. “Our motto was, if we could help one more veteran today than we did yesterday, then we were successful in our mission,” he adds.
The original nonprofit model focused on assisting veterans to achieve gainful employment. Whether it was resumes, coaching, or other services, Caporale and Kirk knew it was important to educate veterans on the practices civilians often take for granted. Because of the massive growth Hire Our Heroes underwent, WDG is once again partnering with this incredible organization on a WordPress-powered platform.
How is Hire Our Heroes helping veterans across America today?
From the start, Hire Our Heroes operations have been 100% volunteer-based. They are funded by corporate and private donations. As a result, the organization has grown tremendously in the last few years. This one time hobby has become “the connective tissue between corporate America looking for the veteran population, and the veteran population looking for corporate America,” Caporale says.
Caporale and Kirk have seen the success of these efforts pay off for veterans repeatedly. They recall one veteran who had a full transition experience. Hire Our Heroes helped with his resume and coaching, gave him a new suit, and flew him across the country for his interview. When he landed the job, they also helped relocate his family. Caporale remembers a tear-filled conversation with the veteran’s wife on the phone, who couldn’t stop thanking them for changing their lives.
It was just one of many success stories, with thousands more to come. With all of this success, it’s time to scale the nonprofit to keep up with their growth.
How is Hire Our Heroes actively connecting veterans and corporate America?
A serious issue facing veterans is underemployment. The new WordPress-powered engagement will focus on “truly transitioning veterans for success as they move out of the service into their next career,” Caporale explains. Technology-based training is key to this success.
Hire Our Heroes has partnered with almost a dozen large scale organizations to provide free training to veterans for some of the most in-demand skillsets. For example, they have brought in almost 30,000 veterans to the program for cyber security through their partnership with the Department of Homeland Security. With the phenomenal success of this and other technology training initiatives, veterans gain key skills to sustain their lifestyles.
The success stories of the veterans and their families keep Caporale, Kirk, and their volunteers motivated to continue growing. When Hire Our Heroes’ first began, they partnered with Southwest Airlines to fly veterans anywhere in the country for interviews, free of charge. It was such a success that “spouses would call us thinking it was a scam, that it was too good to be true” Caporale explains. “When we showed them that we were serious, they would break down crying because they were so grateful. The families and the veterans are the whole reason why we do this.”
While everyone’s experience is different after leaving the service, Caporale believes there is a huge disconnect between corporations and veterans. “There’s no one place to go and find a veteran to hire,” he explains. “There’s also not one single place veterans can go to find a tailored career opportunity and training. That’s where we come in.”
What does the future of Hire Our Heroes entail?
The organization is looking to expand their already successful partnership opportunities. Caporale notes, “We continue to look for strategic alliances with corporate America, including partnership opportunities with Fortune 500 and emerging growth companies to provide training for veterans.” It’s important, says Caporale, that partners understand everything is done at zero cost to the veteran.
“We’re always looking to build those partnerships and grow that ecosystem” he adds. “There are hundreds of thousands of veterans that have tapped into our services across the country and we anticipate that this number will just keep growing. We’re always looking for organizations that believe in us to support us with donations as well.”
The goal of this engagement is to position the organization as the clearinghouse for veterans and other organizations alike. Caporale explains, “We provide go-to services for veterans by not only connecting them to partnerships with corporate America, but to other nonprofits that may provide additional services. We will continue to grow into our role as the go-to for services, jobs, training, and opportunities by building this ecosystem and becoming a one-stop shop for veterans everywhere.”
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