The White House is challenging the public to to share stories of service and dedication to military families.

Americans care deeply about service members and their families; however, many are unaware of the pressures deployments create for military families.  Deployments and transfers place strain on every aspect of military family life from emotional to financial.  Military families may experience anxiety, isolation, or other issues when dealing with frequent moves, deployments, illness, or injury.

A Call to Action

In April 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, a national initiative to support and honor America’s service members and their families. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society — citizens, communities, schools, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government — to ensure military families have the support they have earned. 

In an effort to recognize those citizens and organizations with a demonstrated, genuine, and deep desire to be of service to military families, the First Lady and Dr. Biden have established the Joining Forces Community Challenge.  The Challenge was established with the expectation that recognizing and celebrating those who are dedicated to improving the lives of military families will have the added benefit of encouraging others to do so as well.

Joining Forces Community Challenge

The Joining Forces Community Challenge will award several national prizes that recognize citizens, communities, schools, non-profits, faith-based institutions, philanthropic organizations, and local governments for their efforts in supporting military families.   These are non-monetary awards. 

Citizens and organizations providing programs, services, or support designed to ease the burden and alleviate the emotional and mental stress on service members and their families are encouraged to apply for the Joining Forces Community Challenge.  Nominations will also be accepted. 

The Joining Forces Community Challenge will be conducted in two stages.  During the first stage, the White House will announce 20 finalists on January 23, 2012.  In the second stage, winners will be selected with input from a panel of judges.  In addition, finalists will be profiled on Challenge.gov where the public will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite--the People's Choice winner.  Public voting and additional judging will take place after finalists are announced and continue to February, when the White House will announce a winner on March 16, 2012.  Winners' profiles will be featured at Champions of Change, the Administration's website where extraordinary community efforts in the areas of innovation and education are celebrated.  

Prize winners will be recognized at an event in Washington, D.C in early 2012.  

Stay Connected and Get Updates

Follow Joining Forces on Twitter for short, timely updates and ideas on how you can get involved. Follow Us

Like Joining Forces on Facebook and join the conversation on how to support service members and their families. Visit Our Facebook Page

To sign up for email updates from the First Lady and Dr. Biden on Joining Forces and opportunities to get involved, click here.

View full rules

How to enter

Required and Optional Submission Materials

If you are passionate about having a lasting impact on the lives of military families and are currently doing something to help, we want to hear your story.  Please answer all of the following questions in one to two paragraphs each.  Your answers should not exceed a total of 4 pages in length.

  • Tell us why you’re passionate about helping military families, i.e., why do you want to help?
  • What is the program(s) and/or service(s) that you offer and to whom? How long have you been doing it?  (What are you doing to help?)
  • Who is involved?  Are you an organization or an individual?  Tell us about you or your organization, how it got started, what other programs are offered, etc.
  • How have you touched the lives of military families?  What kind of positive impact have your efforts had on the lives of military families – from active duty, National Guard and Reserve to veterans and survivors of fallen troops?

In addition to the answers to these questions, submissions could include an optional video (e.g, video testimonials from military families, overview of services) in support of their application/nomination.  Videos must not exceed 10 minutes in length and must be submitted via Youtube link.

If selected as a finalist, submitted narratives and videos may be featured as part of the People's Choice voting.

Timeline

The Joining Forces Community Challenge submission period begins July 22, 2011 at 12:01 AM (ET) and runs through October 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM (ET).  Applications and nominations will be accepted during this period.

 

Click below to post a submission.

Judges

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A National Selection Panel

Judging Criteria

  • Community Building
    The program(s) and/or service(s) foster the strengthening of bonds between military families and the communities in which they live and directly support the well-being of these families.
  • Impact
    The program(s) or service(s) offered play a vital role in helping military families cope with the unique needs that surface as a result of a deployment.
  • Inclusive
    Program or service activities promote and facilitate participation by all military families and do not exclude families based on service branch affiliation including Reserve and National Guard.
  • Innovation
    Program(s) and/or service(s) may, but are not required to, represent novel and creative approaches for tackling the issue.
  • Transferable
    Program(s) and/or service(s) can be easily replicated and scaled elsewhere in the country.