For many veterans, it’s difficult to piece together a fresh start after returning from service overseas. That’s where the G.I. Go Fund comes in. The Newark-based nonprofit helps veterans get back on track.
“It’s been great, man. Those guys have really helped me navigate some of the spaces of Newark, because I’m an outsider here,” says Michael Steadman, a veteran who built a business in Newark with the G.I. Go Fund’s help.
The organization was founded in 2006 in honor of U.S. Army Lt. Seth Dvorin, who was killed while serving in Iraq. Dvorin’s childhood friends Nick, Peter and Alex Manis and James and Jack Fanous wanted to create a support network for veterans. Whatever their discharge status, no veteran would be turned away.
The fund helps veterans find housing and offers job training, career fairs and entrepreneurial guidance. It also provides incubator office space at its Newark headquarters to help veterans with new business concepts.
Steadman, a native Texan, launched his nonprofit, the Ironbound Boxing Academy, in 2016. He had developed a love for boxing while at the U.S. Naval Academy and during his time as a U.S. Marine. After serving overseas, Steadman headed to Newark to teach at Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School, where he started a boxing program. Over time, Steadman saw the potential in the area. “There’s this whole boxing scene here in Jersey that I didn’t even know about,” he says.
Steadman’s early days as an entrepreneur were tough. Then he learned about the G.I. Go Fund at a state Veterans Chamber of Commerce meeting. The fund provided the guidance and networking Steadman needed. “They’ve just been great connecting me with people.”
Steadman’s progress has impressed G.I. Go Fund COO James Fanous. “He’s a real go-getter and he’s very motivated,” says Fanous. “To see the success that he’s had in just the few short months that he’s been part of the incubator is amazing.”
Steadman hopes other veterans in Newark will join him in supporting members of the community. “For people of color in the city that aren’t veterans, they don’t get that same level of support,” says Steadman. “I view myself as an opportunity to bridge that gap.”