KALA, the St. Ambrose University radio station, has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Fourteen public media stations were awarded grants totaling $350,000 for Veterans Coming Home: Finding What Works, a digital-first content and engagement project. The project will focus on successful examples of veterans "finding what works" as they transition to civilian life by advancing their education, furthering their careers and contributing to their communities.
David Baker, Chief Operator for KALA, said more than 100 stations attended an informational webinar about the grant.
"We were up against radio and television stations from Los Angeles, New York and Miami," Baker said.
KALA had the advantage of already working with the veterans' community in the Quad Cities.
"This is not something new for us," Baker said. "We're very proud we have taken on this initiative to support our local veterans."
Baker and then SAU Production Specialist Johnna Kerres knew SAU would be a natural fit for the grant. They brought in Natalie Woodhurst, Coordinator of Veterans Recruitment and Services at St. Ambrose, to help them with project ideas and other necessary information.
Woodhurst knew that SAU had stories about successful veterans this grant could help share with the community and across the country.
"Ken Cunningham, an SAU alum and veteran, has formed a group called Quad Cities Veterans Arts Initiative," Woodhurst said.
Cunningham is working with Chris Reno, the director of the Catich Gallery, to bring military members and their families together to learn and create art.
Woodhurst also told the story of Dr. Tom Christensen, a 30 year Air Force veteran who recently retired from Deere & Co. and is now teaching classes in supply chain management at SAU.
"Tom is also developing a supply chain management major," Woodhurst said.
Current SAU students and Navy veterans Cheyenne and Travis Ziegler are transitioning from service to civilian life together as a married couple.
"It's really unique to have two veterans going through this process together," Woodhurst said. "Travis is the President of the student veteran association, and Cheyenne is the Secretary. Travis is also a member of the SAU Color Guard."
The grant-funded project will launch over the summer and culminate in a digital series to premier on Veterans' Day, November 11, 2018.