Bridge360, with Support of Community Technology Partners, Launches Nonprofit for Veterans

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Veterans4Quality proof of concept sees enough success to stand alone, graduating 62 veterans through the curriculum and on-the-job training program.

It was always our goal to nurture the program through Bridge360 and community technology partners until it could stand alone. To see this come to fruition in such a short timeframe is a testament to the dedication of our team and corporate partners.

Following a successful year of Veterans4Quality, a fast-track career-training program for returning veterans, Bridge360 is spinning off the program as a stand-alone 501c(3) non-profit organization. Ron MacKay will lead Veterans4Quality going forward as the organization’s first executive director.

Since the inception of the program, 62 veterans have graduated through four completed sessions. All graduates either have entered the workforce in full-time or contractor positions or been called back to active National Guard duty. The fifth class, which kicked off in September, has 11 students enrolled.

“Bridge360 started Veterans4Quality as a proof of concept that has found amazing success and made a significant impact in the lives of the veterans and their families who have participated in the program,” said Brenda Hall, CEO of Bridge360. “It was always our goal to nurture the program through Bridge360 and community technology partners until it could stand alone. To see this come to fruition in such a short timeframe is a testament to the dedication of our team and corporate partners who have come forward in such a shining way to fill a need for those who have risked so much for our country.”

Ron MacKay, Bridge360’s inspiration for the program, took over leadership of Veterans4Quality in October. MacKay, a 20-year Army veteran, served in Korea, Kuwait and Iraq. Upon retirement from the Army in 2012, MacKay joined the Austin Police Department where he serves as the manager of the research and planning division. MacKay is assisted with the growth of Veterans4Quality by the founding board of directors which includes Brenda Hall, CEO of Bridge360; Susan Barbour, Chief Operating Officer of Bridge360; Brad Powers, Technology Director for Web and eCommerce at Whole Foods Market; and Carl Shaulis, Director of Quality Engineering for HomeAway.

“I first met Ron in 2012 and he was instrumental in teaching me the challenges that veterans would be facing over the next few years as they attempted to match their military experience to the commercial workforce,” said Hall. “Even though we are a small company, we felt like there was something we could do to make an impact plus address a challenge we had in finding top talent to do software quality assurance. Our dedicated team members created the curriculum and volunteered to teach. We recruited great community partners for on-the-job training and just through word of mouth we filled five classes.”

Bridge360 launched Veterans4Quality in May 2014 as a free curriculum and on-the-job training program for returning veterans looking for new careers after their military service. The curriculum, created by Bridge360 and dedicated volunteers within the company, provided students with classroom as well as paid on-the-job training programs through community corporate partners including Whole Foods Market, Dell, HomeAway, Alcatel, Alchemy Systems, Everi, the Federal Aviation Administration, Kendra Scott, NewComLink, Pace Americas, Personify, Somnio and Win Learning.

“Our community partners are so much a part of the success story. The momentum we have today is thanks to the other companies that joined in our quest,” said Hall. “The program was immediately embraced and supported by Brad Powers and the Whole Foods Market team and Geoff Meyer and the Dell team. As the program progressed, every company we asked came to the table to support the program, providing an instructors network for the classes, paid on-the-job training for the students and then hiring the graduates as full-time employees.”

The curriculum and on-the-job training program accelerate the process for veterans to start careers as software quality assurance engineers. Through the program, students complete the 15-week classroom portion of the curriculum and continue learning through a 90-day paid on-the-job training period. Upon graduation, veterans earn a Software Quality Assurance Certificate.

Whole Foods Market will host a celebration of the Veterans4Quality non-profit launch on November 9 from 9:00-10:30 a.m. at the Whole Foods Market building, plaza level, located at 550 Bowie Street in downtown Austin. Corporate partners and veteran graduates will be in attendance.

About Veterans4Quality™
Veterans4Quality was launched in May 2014 by Bridge360 as a free curriculum and paid on-the-job training program for returning veterans. The fast-track career-training program provides coursework and paid hands-on training for becoming a software quality assurance engineer. In October 2015, Bridge360 spun off Veterans4Quality as a stand-alone 501c(3) non-profit organization, appointing Ron MacKay as the first executive director.

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