Statement by Bruce & Avis Richards:

November 11th, 2015 marks 96 years of celebrating our Veterans. As Americans, we owe everything to these fine men and women who risk their lives to protect our freedom and safety. While Veterans’ Day is an important day to pay tribute to those who have served our nation, the Richards family believes that all of us should consider what more we can do to honor our troops. The Veterans Education Challenge creates a valuable new avenue that Americans can use to pay-it-forward, allowing our Veterans the wonderful opportunity and encouragement to gain a college degree.

The Veterans Education Challenge is dedicated to sending United States Military veterans to college by providing them with needed scholarships that the GI Bill does not cover.  For every dollar up to $1 million raised by the general public, the Richards family will match it, with a guarantee that 100% goes toward veteran scholarships.

We know how valuable our veterans are, both in combat and in the classroom. However, these dedicated and loyal men and women must make big adjustments to enter college in hopes of developing their post-military career. Veterans make up only 4% of the undergraduate college population and the unemployment rate for Veterans is 7.2% compared to the national average of 5.2%. A majority of veterans have a spouse and/or children, so education is an added financial burden that many are hesitant to take. With America’s help, the Veterans Education Challenge will raise college enrollment and the graduation rate, which will undeniably lower unemployment, one Veteran collegiate scholar at a time.

The goal of the fund is to reinforce our veterans’ right to education and their ability to succeed in both higher education and life in general. The fund will support tuition, room and board, and other related and allowable living expenses. All veteran scholarship awards will be based on financial need with a priority and preference to Pell-eligible undergraduate and graduate students. Veterans will be eligible to renew awards based on financial need and standing with the universities.

Help us help them; because it’s not just an education, it’s their career, their future!

Visit us on online:

Twitter: @VetEdChallenge


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2012 R Baby Hero: Avis Richards

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R Baby Board Member for 5 years

When thinking of this year's R Baby Hero Award, during our 5th birthday, there was no question of who it would go to since this person has worked tirelessly by our side for the past five years. Avis Richards, CEO of Birds Nest Foundation, has been a vital part of the R Baby team since our inception and her devotion has never waived. Year after year she continues to be there for us in many capacities.

It all started in 2006 right after Rebecca passed away. I remember the Richards being at our home consoling us and also committing to us to help in any way if we wanted to improve the healthcare system that failed our daughter. The first year of R Baby's birth was the first year I was dealing with my daughter's death. So, you can imagine how emotional it was but at the same time how driven Andrew and I were to make sure that this didn’t happen to any other family. Well, Avis was right there every day not only helping us start a new not-for-profit organization but being so passionate about our cause and also being there as a friend along the way. That is the biggest thing about not for profits — they are personal — they are emotional - and Avis Richards understands this. She is sensitive, caring while also being driven to make change.

Our first event at the Mandarin Oriental was an incredible success. Avis was a large part of that given her constant advice and "can do" attitude. She took on many projects including our first video production as well as auction items with a hands on approach. Given how philanthropic Avis is, she was able to advise on many elements of the night to help make it as successful as possible. She was literally willing to help with anything and taught me from the beginning how to never spend the charity's money unless absolutely necessary as more can go to saving babies' lives. This may seem obvious, but most charities only give 60-70% (CHARITYNAVIGATOR.ORG) directly to the cause where R Baby gives over 90%. Avis makes sure her bargaining skills are R Baby’s gain! Her values on frugality, authenticity and a hands on approach were and are invaluable to us and R Baby.

After our first event, Avis continued to support us year after year through her wonderful video productions, her talented team of photographers at every event we have and her extremely valuable board and marketing input. When we did our Run/Walk in Central Park, Avis even led a family photo booth to make the experience even that much more special of a day. She is always there when we need her. She never hesitates. Her commitment to R Baby and other charities should be recognized and appreciated as she continues to inspire me and others to be passionate, giving and selfless — as she is.

Andrew and I are forever grateful for Avis' contributions, devotion and friendship. Thank you for all that you do and most importantly, all that you are.

— Phyllis and Andrew Rabinowitz

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