Veteran Non Profit Q+A: Four Block Foundation

Each month, Capitol Post interviews a veteran-focused nonprofit. This month, we spoke with Four Block Foundation, a nonprofit that equips Post-9/11 student veterans to find meaningful careers and maximize their potential through a 12-week program and a network of alumni and partners. Non-Profit Name: Four Block Foundation Year Founded: 2012 Executive Director Name: Mike Abrams Key…

Each month, Capitol Post interviews a veteran-focused nonprofit. This month, we spoke with Four Block Foundation, a nonprofit that equips Post-9/11 student veterans to find meaningful careers and maximize their potential through a 12-week program and a network of alumni and partners.

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Non-Profit Name: Four Block Foundation

Year Founded: 2012

Executive Director Name: Mike Abrams
Key Members: Eric Ahn, Pat Murray, Chris Vasiliou
HQ: New York, NY
Number of Full-Time Employees: 5

Brief Organization Description: Four Block equips Post-9/11 student veterans to find meaningful careers and maximize their potential through a 12-week program and a network of alumni and partners.

Little-Known Fact About Your Organization or Founders:

– Our founder is the Commanding Officer of Battery M, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment out of Chattanooga, TN.
– A few years back, a Marine officer, who had a NYU Stern MBA, was tasked with putting labels on DVDs at his new job. Because of his first-hand experience of just how little companies knew how to use their veteran employees’ true value, Mike Abrams founded Four Block to bridge this gap.

What makes your organization unique?

Four Block is a community of both veterans and organizational partners. Our aim is not just to prepare veterans for meaningful careers, but also educate companies on creating an environment that maximizes veteran potential.

You are a non-profit associated with veterans or the military. How has military service influenced your organization?

It drives everything we do. Each of us has a particular passion for mentoring veterans and helping them succeed, whether it’s because we were squad leaders who wanted nothing less than excellence from our Marines or because we lost a loved one and now as a Gold Star Mother, want to see their friends succeed.

Toot your organization’s horn. What have you done that you’re most proud of to date?
Four Block is the official mentor program for all wounded Marines and sailors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Despite significant injuries and seemingly impossible limitations, these veterans are definitely proving they are more than capable!

What’s one piece of advice you would give to a non-profit start-up?
Focus on the mission first and foremost; on getting tangible, measurable results. The rest will take care of itself.

Who (or what) has had the most positive influence on your company and why?
Our veterans. They’re resilience has been inspirational and their feedback has significantly shaped our services.

Fear and Fun: Free Human Resources Consulting at Alexandria SBDC

Español: Peter F. Drucker, padre de la adminis...
Peter F. Drucker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Did you even know that the SBDC is providing free Human Resources consulting to its clients? I am having great fun meeting the many different businesses and non-profits coming in. But for many of them, the main reason to sign up for a consultation is fear. Fear of hiring, perfomance issues, employee lawsuits, terminations gone bad, the unknown legal risk, or change.

Happily we have had some pro-active folks who know what their strategic goals are but need some help with what that means in HR terms. And others who are solo now but want to be prepared to add staff in the future. Now you might think those would be the most fun discussions. They often are the most pleasant.

But the great fun of those who come in with a problem – often one they have been worrying about or hoping would disappear for some time – is to make the fear disappear. I love the look of relief or the kind comments when that happens.

Dealing with people issues is difficult for most of us. We avoid conflict. We wonder why others are not aware of goals and needs we see as obvious. We fear legal risks that are rare or quite unlikely. We lay awake wondering how to resolve an ‘employee problem’ or deal with a ‘problem employee’ – especially when the person is family, friend, or has long service. We want to hire but fear our ability to find the ‘right person’ quickly and easily. And we are overwhelmed at the thought of fast growth. We may have tried policies or procedures from a past employer but found that they did not work or are ignored.

Many entrepreneurs have had little management training. Others have had some but in a large bureaucratic system that they hated. Most want to create a great environment so that their organizations can thrive, but few know how.

Often, the presenting problem is not the actual problem. Peter Drucker wrote of how almost all employee failures are actually system failures. System failures are often hard to see. And when it is your system, you do not even think of it as a possible problem. None of us ever thinks we are the problem either, but sometimes we are at least a part of it. Many entrepreneurs have high control needs.

In the first seven months of HR Consults, we have dealt with all these issues and more. Marketing, strategic planning, finances, and partnerships have been other common themes.

If you are interested in an HR Consult, contact Gloria Flanagan at the SBDC for an appointment. Give her some idea of what your concerns are so we can provide the most help in the hour consult time.

And go back to your work with actionable ideas and information to help reduce the fear, enhance your organization’s success, and be on the road to thriving.