September 4, 2015The construction industry and job creation go hand in hand, and this year the International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) is furthering that connection in an even deeper, more meaningful way with an ICUEE Benefit Auction on Oct. 1 from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. on the ICUEE Demo Stage, presented by Benjamin Media Inc.
ICUEE will be held at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. All proceeds raised during the auction will be donated to The Call of Duty Endowment, which raises money for organizations that place returning veterans in high-quality jobs — like construction — and raise awareness of the value that veterans bring to the workplace.
When AEM and sponsor Benjamin Media (parent company of Trenchless Technology) examined various charities for the auction, they agreed that it should connect with the construction industry. And with 600,000 unfilled skilled-labor jobs in the United States, combined with the fact that the unemployment rate for post-9/11 military veterans in their 20s is more than 17 percent, The Call of Duty Endowment was a perfect fit.
“The construction and utility industries face challenges fulfilling skilled workforce needs, and military veterans have valuable skills that translate well into industry jobs,” says show director Sara Truesdale Mooney.
The ICUEE Benefit Auction will include products and prizes from Ford, Case, HammerHead, Ditch Witch, Digital Control Inc., Vermeer and other ICUEE 2015 exhibitors, as well as vacations and other goodies. The auction has no minimums and no reserves (all items will be sold).
“We are very pleased to have the support of Benjamin Media and J.J. Kane Auctioneers. Their invaluable assistance and dedication have been key to producing this worthwhile event,” Mooney states.
The COD Endowment
In 2009, ActivisionBlizzard CEO Bobby Kotick was chatting with former Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson. During the conversation, Kotick mentioned that a philanthropic foundation was planning to build a performing arts center on the grounds of the VA facility in West Los Angeles that would offer special benefits to veterans. Nicholson’s response was, “That’s stupid. Our real priorities are finding jobs for veterans and improving their healthcare. I think if we could redirect people’s energies and efforts for job creation, that would be a better use of capital and better for veterans.”
That’s when The Call of Duty Endowment was born. With the mission of placing veterans into high-quality careers, the endowment has distributed more than $12 million in five-plus years to non-profits that have used these funds to place more than 12,000 veterans into high-quality jobs — more than halfway to its stated goal of 25,000 by 2018.
Sending grant money to the best non-profits in this space is the endowment’s core philosophy. The endowment’s Seal of Distinction process assesses the effectiveness and efficiency of grantees’ placement efforts, benchmarking them against best-in-breed non-profits and also examines their financial strength, ensures reasonable expenditures, performs background checks on their key leadership and makes certain their strategy is aligned with placing veterans into high-quality careers.
“We work with Seal winners to find the best way to maximize their impact through funding, PR, networking, etc.,” says Dan Goldenberg, executive director of the endowment. “Grantees sign up to performance targets, and we work with them to ensure goals are met on a quarterly basis. Organizations that do not meet their commitments do not receive subsequent funding.”
More than 80 percent of grantees do hit or exceed their targets. Some of the top organizations that receive endowment funding include:
• Hire Heroes USA
• Corporate America
Supports You (CASY)
• Veterans Inc.
• Easter Seals of DC, MD and
VA’s Veteran Staffing Network
• Still Serving Veterans
• US VETS
• Salvation Army HAVEN
“Ask a simple question of your suppliers: How many vets do they employ?” Goldenberg says. “ActivisionBlizzard did this, and it had a surprisingly positive response, including requests from vendors to connect them with ‘great non-profits to help us hire [more] vets.’ Ask your company’s recruiters: When was the last time we interviewed a vet for an opening? If they are struggling to connect with qualified vets, our grantees are happy to help!”