St. Joseph’s University – Commitment to Veteran-Entrepreneurs
Over the course of the last six months Veterans Business Services has been able to form a business relationship with St. Joseph’s University to both promote their Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart (VEJ) and EBV program and to work together to show Veterans who enroll in their programs the full scope of business opportunities available including small business and franchising opportunities.
Ralph Galati, the Director of Veterans Services at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, leads the Entrepreneurial programs which are aligned with, the Erivan K. Haub School of Business, a nationally recognized and fully accredited business program. The Veterans Services team at St. Joseph’s University is dedicated and committed to helping veterans, especially through their newly developed entrepreneurship programs that is designed to help veterans start their own business or franchise.
In the Spring of 2012 an alum/donor approached Joe DiAngelo, the Dean of the Haub School of Business about an opportunity for veterans. He had just seen a 60 Minutes program that featured Syracuse University and their Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities program (EBV). His family was energized with this approach, and wanted St. Joe’s to join their Consortium of schools. They applied to join the Syracuse program later that year, and waited. While Syracuse was very pleased with their submission, they were not quite ready to admit new schools to their Consortium. Finally, in the Spring of 2014, we approached our alum/donor with a proposition. While we continue to wait for a Syracuse decision on EBV, why not develop a program on our own! This would surely give us the necessary experience and background to jumpstart EBV once selected. He agreed, and the Office of Veterans Services was born. Along with Ralph’s teammate – Andrew Colket, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, they began their development efforts.
The Office of Veterans Services at St. Joseph’s University has just celebrated its first anniversary. It is staffed by two, full-time, combat-disabled veterans, and have three distinct missions: Develop and deliver Entrepreneurship Programs for Veterans, with specific focus on disabled veterans; Support our student-veterans and dependents with programs and support services; and Align ourselves with veteran-friendly companies in the region so that we can provide career development and job placement opportunities for our veterans.
During this past year, they have been rewarded with several recognitions that have made them more “veteran friendly.” These include: U.S. News & World Report; MilitaryFriendly.com; and designation as a Purple Heart University.
Ralph Galati, a 1970 graduate of St. Joe’s, was commissioned in the United States Air Force through their ROTC program. During his eight years of active duty, he served as an F-4 Weapon Systems Officer, Flight Instructor, and Pentagon Staff Officer in the Office of Legislative Liaison. During his tour in Southeast Asia, he was shot-down over North Vietnam, captured, and spent 14 months as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi. As a combat-disabled veteran, he knows what it means to serve and understand the challenges of our veteran community – especially the issues surrounding transition and readjustment to civilian life. Ralph has also spent 30 years in the business sector, working at IBM and SAP. Additionally, he has 30 years’ experience as an Adjunct Faculty member at several local colleges.
St Joe’s has had a strong commitment to veterans for many decades. During WWI, they were a government war barracks and Military Training School, called the Students’ Army Training Corps. The President of St Joe’s placed the school at the disposal of the War Department. In 1949 they dedicated the Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse to the memory of our graduates who served and died in World War II. St. Joe’s has had an Air Force ROTC Detachment on campus since 1954. And now we have a strong Office of Veterans Services dedicated to serving those who have served our nation.
Ultimately the program was called the Veterans Entrepreneurial Jumpstart (VEJ). In order to satisfy the wishes of our alum/donor, the program followed the parameters of the Syracuse EBV – specifically, to offer a program for disabled veterans who had interest in starting their own business. Over the period August 2014 to January 2015, we accomplished the following:
- Designed and developed a 3-phase program, including Self-Study preparation, on campus residency, and business plan execution and mentoring
- Aligned with the faculty and staff of the Haub School of Business
- Received support from Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), who endorsed and advertised our program
- Built a support team of over 95 people (lecturers, guest speakers, panelists, mentors, etc), including members of the Entrepreneurs Organization, SCORE, and the Small Business Administration
- Received inquiries from 160 veterans who were interested in our first Cohort – scheduled to start Phase I in March 2015
- Built a cadre of In-Kind Services to support our veterans during their Phase III execution
VEJ Cohort I was a great success and our 19 veterans graduated in May 2015, and are now in Phase III as they work with mentors to build their dream.
In February 2015, Syracuse notified us that we were accepted into their EBV Consortium – and both St. Joe’s and our alum/donor were ecstatic. Our efforts with VEJ have been instrumental in preparing us for delivery of the Syracuse EBV Program.
Our first Cohort of EBV is scheduled to begin Phase I in March 2016, with the on-campus segment (Phase II) scheduled for April 9-17, 2016. We have already met with the Syracuse Team, and have had dialog with several of the Consortium schools. Their input has been invaluable, and we are ready to being our career as an EBV Consortium school.
The VEJ program has secured some additional funding, and we intend to host a Cohort in the Fall of 2016 – and it will be open to all veterans, regardless of disability. So ideally, we hope to conduct two entrepreneurship programs per year:
- EBV every Spring, with specific focus on veterans with disabilities
- VEJ every Fall, with expanded opportunity for all veterans
The Saint Joseph’s University Office of Veterans Services in pleased with our success, and is fully prepared for the next stage of our program development.
If you need more information on our Office, or want specific information on our Entrepreneurship Programs, please visit us at www.sju.edu/veterans