AVSI Press Release


Los Angeles, California, June 24, 2013: The Ahmanson Foundation recently distributed grants to twenty-five private colleges and universities in California for the newly created Ahmanson Veteran Scholarship Initiative. This initiative provides funds, which will be used specifically to recruit, retain, and educate student veterans at these schools.

The Ahmanson Veteran Scholarship Initiative (AVSI) supports the young men and women returning in record numbers from Iraq and Afghanistan, whose abilities and experience make them ideal college student candidates.  Recognizing that public colleges and universities are not the perfect fit for all students and that the transition from military life to student life can have its challenges, the AVSI is designed to provide returning veterans the support needed to attend and ultimately graduate from private institutions of higher learning.

“These young men and women have done so much for this country, The Ahmanson Foundation is delighted to play a role in helping them re-start their education and assimilate back to their civilian lives,” said Foundation President, William H. Ahmanson.

With an initial combined award of $1,250,000 for the 2013 – 2014 school year, colleges have the authority and freedom to determine how best to allocate the funds which can be directed in a variety of ways: developing recruitment plans, implementing veteran student outreach, covering the tuition gap, creating on-campus veteran service centers, or even developing a more veteran-friendly campus life. If there are barriers on the road to graduation, schools can use these funds to remove them.

The types of schools supported by the AVSI range from small liberal arts colleges to large universities and some with specific curriculum such as design, science, and engineering. On receiving the grant, Pepperdine University President Andrew K. Benton, remarked “This grant will enable us to better recruit, serve, and support the veterans by enhancing affordability, improving their educational experience, and more fully engaging them into the life of the University.”

Jonathan Veitch, Occidental College President stated, “We already put our AVSI funds to work.  By pairing AVSI with federal assistance, we were able to offer a ‘free ride’ package to an outstanding veteran in our latest transfer class. It was hard to tell who was more delighted: the young veteran or our director of financial aid.”

“USC has a long and proud history of supporting its veterans and military service members, as well as their families,” said USC President C. L. Max Nikias. “The USC School of Social Work’s military social work program reflects the university’s commitment to attracting veterans and military spouses to further their education, and—in the case of this program—to prepare for a career serving their fellow veterans and military families. USC is grateful for the Ahmanson Foundation’s gift, which will help provide critical financial resources for deserving and talented students.”

When asked about the long-term goals of the AVSI, Ahmanson continued, “…expanding veteran admissions in private colleges and universities and a 100% graduation rate of these students would be the best-case scenario.  Though our initiative is California based, we believe campuses nationwide could benefit from the contribution of veteran students. Seeing more philanthropic organizations in other parts of the country participate in a veteran scholarship of their own would be the proverbial icing on the cake.”

As part of this initiative, beyond the award amount, a website has been created to assist veterans in discovering higher education opportunities in California and to provide information to funders interested in veteran opportunities.  Visit vetsback2college.com for more information.

Celebrating its 60th year serving Los Angeles, The Ahmanson Foundation primarily serves Los Angeles County, funding cultural projects in the arts and humanities, education at all levels, including health care, programs for the homeless and underserved populations, and a wide range of human services.

Media Contact:
Alison Graham