The Mission Continues
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2013)|
|Focus||The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, empowering them to transform their own lives by serving others and directly impacting their communities.|
Eric Greitens, CEOSpencer Kympton, President
|Revenue||$6.5 million in 2012 (individual, corporate, and foundation donors)|
|Volunteers||7515 in 2012 (2103 veterans and 5412 civilians in 247 service projects)|
|Slogan||It's not a charity. It's a challenge.|
|Formerly called||Center for Citizen Leadership|
The Mission Continues, formerly Center for Citizen Leadership, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that serves as a framework for United States military veterans to perform community service work toward issues ranging from disaster preparedness to education for low-income youth to training of service dogs for wounded veterans. Founded in 2007 by Rhodes Scholar and former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, The Mission Continues offers post-9/11 veterans six month community service fellowships to assist them in finding the same purpose they found in the military while they return to civilian life. As of 2013, The Mission Continues has awarded Fellowships to over 700 veterans.
The Mission Continues was founded in 2007 after CEO Eric Greitens returned home from service in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Upon his return, Eric visited with wounded Marines at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Without exception, each Marine expressed an unwavering desire to continue serving his country, even if he could no longer do so in the military. Inspired, Eric used his own combat pay and asked two friends to pitch in their military disability checks to found The Mission Continues. According to the Better Business Bureau CEO Eric Greitens compensation is $186,142 yearly and the organization has a paid staff of 28. The other work is done by unpaid volunteers.
Five core values guide The Mission Continues’ staff, Fellows, and Alumni. They are listed on their website as follows:
- "We work hard because excellence is achieved through extraordinary effort."
- "Trust is the foundation of our team. We earn trust by completing every mission with integrity."
- "We learn and grow by attacking great challenges with great intensity."
- "We earn respect through the achievement of excellence. We communicate to everyone around us: you are worthy and you have the potential to contribute."
- "Our work is a source of joy and enriches our lives."
A Mission Continues Fellowship involves 20 hours of service per week for 26 weeks at a local nonprofit organization. Fellows are encouraged to choose a nonprofit organization to serve based on their own personal passions. Current and Alumni Fellows have worked at organizations addressing issues ranging from disaster preparedness to education for low-income youth to training service dogs for wounded veterans. These host organizations include Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Before beginning the fellowship, Fellows attend a three-day Fellowship Orientation, joining other post-9/11 veterans from their Fellowship Class for a weekend of training, service and camaraderie. Upon returning home from orientation, Fellows officially begin their fellowships at their host organizations. Throughout the fellowship, each Fellow will have the opportunity to lead a community service project, share their story with others, and inspire their community to take action.
Much like their oaths upon joining the military, Fellows take another oath of service at the beginning of their Fellowships. Oaths were first taken in November 2011, and since have been taken in public by Bravo class 2012 (Busch Stadium) and Bravo class 2013 (9/11 Memorial). The oath is as follows:
We are Fellows of The Mission Continues. As Fellows, our personal service did not end with our military service, but has only just begun. We are citizen leaders, committed to making a positive impact in our community, by upholding the values we learned through our military service. We pledge to work hard, both selflessly, and joyously. Trust will always be our foundation. As we serve, we will learn, grow, and always respect everybody unconditionally. We will do all of this because we are Fellows, and our mission continues.
Throughout their Fellowship, Fellows follow an academic curriculum design to help their transition, and guide their pursuit of their goals of continuing education, employment, or service. Fellows’ achieve their goals through challenging goal setting, recruitment and utilization of assets, and the study and exemplification of meaningful role models. During each month of the Fellowship, Fellows reflect on the past month, read an article about the upcoming month’s theme, complete exercises practicing that theme, and relate the theme to their current mission to serve and inspire utilizing their leadership skills. By completing the Fellowship curriculum, Fellows have learned a repeatable, familiar framework to apply to their futures so that upcoming goals and challenges can be met and overcome.
The Mission Continues has received numerous awards for nonprofit excellence, including the 2011 Innovation Award Winner from the Social Venture Network, the 2012 TORCH Award from the Better Business Bureau of Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois, being named one of the 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For in 2013 by the The NonProfit Times, a 2009 Draper Richards Fellowship from the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation and the 2011 Best of Bullseye Award for Collaboration from Target.
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- "The Mission Continues challenges veterans to serve and inspire in communities across America". Missioncontinues.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
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- "Our Core Values". Missioncontinues.org. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "About the Fellowship". Missioncontinues.org. 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Joe Klein, “Can Service Save Us?”, “TIME”, June 20, 2013
- "The Fellowship Oath". Missioncontinues.org. 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "Meet Our Members - SVN Innovation Awards - Current Winners - 2011 Innovation Award Winners - Social Venture Network". Svn.org. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "Mission Continues Business Review in Saint Louis, MO - Eastern Missouri & Southern Illinois BBB". Bbb.org. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "the NonProfit Times : Best Nonprofits to Work For 2013". Thenonprofittimes.com. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "The Mission Continues Awarded Prestigious Social Change Grant". Missioncontinues.org. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "The Mission Continues Receives Target's "Best of Bullseye" Award". Missioncontinues.org. Retrieved 2013-09-22.