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Mequon native works to connect veterans with college

Aspiring entrepreneur to launch web-based program

Aug. 14, 2013

Mequon — Mequon native and Homestead High School graduate Garrett FitzGerald has kicked off a new initiative to connect veterans with a college that would best fit their needs.

FitzGerald, along with his business partner, Annie Boone, founded Home Front Alliance, a web-based program designed for veterans, active duty personnel, military spouses and their dependents that will help match them with a college or university that best fits their interests and needs.

"The main reason we were drawn to it is because the graduation rate for veterans is beyond low," FitzGerald said. "It's failing miserably so we hope to connect veterans with colleges that better fit their interests so they can graduate."

Free to all veterans

The program, once it officially launches in three months, will be free for all veterans to use. The user will be able to build a comprehensive profile detailing their educational history, community involvement and military service. A mock profile can be viewed on the Home Front Alliance website hfalliance.com. Once a profile is complete, the veteran can fill out information such as institutional cost, size and geographic location into a filter system. The program will then generate a list of colleges and universities that best match the user's preferences and qualifications based on both the profile, as well as the information entered into the filter.

The user can then choose the schools they are interested in and begin direct communication with the schools by sending their profiles to the admissions and veterans affairs offices, FitzGerald said.

"Those veterans that do come home don't know much about college," he said. "Many came right out of high school and enlisted so they go to school by their home town and home-base and a lot of times they don't meet their needs so we try to find one that does."

Veterans will also be able to communicate with other veterans using Home Front Alliance's social media platform called The Edge.

Post-grad project

FitzGerald and Boone began working on the program during their senior year at the University of Dayton-Ohio. Every summer, FitzGerald would return home to intern for Riveredge, a company that owns a web-based college connection tool. When the soon-to-be entrepreneurs graduated in May, they decided to bring their own idea to life, leasing the program from Riveredge and founding their own program targeted to veterans.

The two are working out of Louisville, Ky., Boone's home town, over the summer, traveling back and forth to Milwaukee to meet with the web programmer.

They have begun to work with universities and colleges, hoping to include both two- and four-year schools in the program. So far, they have been receptive. Boone said it has been reassuring talking to veteran student offices who she said have been seeking a program like theirs.

"I think we have a really promising future and I'm excited to see where it goes," Boone said.

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