The Call Of Duty prize pool is one of the most uplifting aspects of Activision’s billion-dollar video game franchise. The best-selling military shooter consistently tops the charts every year and this year Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 broke all previous sales records.
The Endowment, also known as CODE, is a non-profit organization with a fairly simple goal: to help veterans find good jobs after they leave the service. There are many challenges faced by veterans coming out of the military, including PTSD, a lost sense of purpose, and difficulties reintegrating into society. Getting a good job is often the first and most crucial step in finding meaning in civilian life.
On this Veterans Day, I spoke with Call Of Duty Endowment Executive Director Dan Goldenberg about the endowment, its mission, and how people can help veterans in their communities.
What is the genesis of the Endowment Fund? Where did the idea come from and how did it take shape?
The Call of Duty endowment was born out of a conversation between Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick and former VA Secretary Jim Nicholson.
The conversation inspired Bobby to learn more about unemployment statistics among American veterans, discovering that 50,000 of the 150,000 servicemen returning to civilian life at the time could not find jobs. Kotick co-founded The Call of Duty Endowment soon after with a mission to place veterans in high-quality careers.
What kind of jobs are these veterans placed in?
We focus on high-quality jobs given the 61% veteran unemployment and underemployment rate (Penn State’s Veterans Metrics Initiative) – 87% of the veterans we place are in full-time jobs with a salary of starting average of $64,000 (2X the national average). If a veteran finds a high-quality job while transitioning, the other challenges become much more surmountable. A good job means shelter, livelihood, access to health care, social interaction and, perhaps most importantly, purpose.
How do we do this? We take a performance-based approach to funding the best organizations that help transitioning veterinarians, reservists/guards, and service members find employment. To secure our funding, supported nonprofits must demonstrate highly effective and cost-effective veteran placement through our Seal of Distinction verification process. When they do, we encourage their growth and operations with additional funding, guidance and support.
What makes CODE different from other charities, especially other nonprofits that work with veterans?
There are four things that make us unique. First, we focus on the employment of veterans. Our narrow and deep approach has made us the most effective and efficient not-for-profit organizations for veteran employment and one of the largest funders of veteran employment in the world. Second, our approach to verifying the Seal of Distinction. Third, our connection to the epic Call of Duty entertainment franchise. We wouldn’t be able to do the work we do without the Call of Duty community. And finally, Activision Blizzard covers all of our running costs, so every penny we raise goes directly to vet placement.
We engage the Call of Duty community through our in-game customization packs as well as our in-game campaigns. This year, the endowment reached its goal of placing 100,000 veterans in high-quality jobs! To commemorate this achievement, we’ve engaged the Call of Duty community by launching the first-ever in-game charity run called Call of Duty Veterans.
What other ways can people help veterans?
Today, veterans still struggle to find quality employment, with a 61% unemployment and underemployment rate in the United States, and we have become a major force in helping to solve this problem. The jobs are the most beneficial for the greatest number of veterans. There are so many ways to help a veteran
- Hire more veterans – set a goal for hiring veterans in your business or small business.
- Mentor Transitioning Veterans – Mentor a transitioning service member in your field.
- Support staffing to help veterans find quality jobs.
- Get a Call of Duty Endowment Bundle in your favorite Call of Duty game! Our latest pack has just been retired from Modern Warfare II after raising over $4 million since launch. This money will help place over 7,000 veterans in meaningful employment!
Modern Warfare II is now online. You can read more about the Sold Out Protector Pack here.