How Activision Uses 'Call of Duty' to Raise Funds for Vets

Photo Credit: AP/Shutterstock
October 15, 2018
7mo ago

By Amanda Weston

A non-profit linked to the smash military video game "Call of Duty" has answered a call of its own, pairing 50,000 real-life veterans with jobs one year ahead of schedule. And now, the endowment is onto its next mission.

"We're thrilled to announce today that we are doubling-down," Dan Goldenberg, executive director of the Call of Duty Endowment, told Cheddar Monday.

"Our new goal is 100,000 total placements by 2024. And we think we can get there. We've just got to keep applying the model that's worked thus far."

The Call of Duty Endowment helps veterans find careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and raise awareness of unemployment among ex-soldiers.

The idea began in 2009 when Activision Blizzard ($ATVI) CEO Bobby Kotick and a senior executive team decided the federal efforts to transition veterans into the workforce weren't enough.

At the time, Goldenberg said the unemployment rate for young veterans was over 20 percent.

"They thought if they could take a business-minded approach to this, they could give back to a community that quite frankly inspires the games that Activision Blizzard creates," Goldenberg said.

"So that was the plan, and it's worked out really well."

Activision Blizzard has invested more than $31 million in the project and supports the effort with in-game items that boost the endowment as well as yearly fundraising events timed to the latest "Call of Duty" game installments. The company also works with tech giants to create more donation opportunities.

Goldenberg said military veterans face two major challenges when they're trying to join the civilian workforce after active duty: translating their training into something employers will recognize and fighting certain stereotypes ー that veterans are not creative or only know how to take orders, for example.

"All of that's been proven to be false," Goldenberg said.

"So there's a lot of work that has to be done continually to educate employers on why veterans bring value to the work place, and quantitatively we know they do."

The endowment has helped place veterans in the U.S. and abroad at companies like Amazon ($AMZN), Microsoft ($MSFT), Apple ($AAPL), and SpaceX.

Of all the vets with whom the endowment works, 91 percent get full-time work and 88 percent stay in their new jobs for at least six months.

"There's real value, there's a real business case here for why it makes sense for companies to hire vets," Goldenberg said.

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