Take Point University (TPU) is an extension of the Atlantic Council’s national Take Point Initiative that seeks to provide opportunities for student veterans in collaboration with universities and other local partners around the country. TPU is a launch-pad for student veterans aspiring to become foreign policy thought leaders and opinion shapers. TPU offers a unique public platform where participants can distinguish themselves as intellectual entrepreneurs and secure $2,500 or more to support internships in the foreign policy sector or original project ideas with a nexus to international relations while also benefiting from professional skills training, enhancing their networks, and engaging with senior leaders.
In 2016, The Atlantic Council organized Take Point University programs in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Omaha. Each program consisted of a single full-day event including training, networking, senior speakers, and the TPU Challenge – a public pitch competition with a minimum prize of $2,500. Senior speakers and trainers included General David Petraeus, Congressman Brad Ashford, and numerous veteran leaders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Grant winners included:
1. TPU Omaha: Kevin Sefcovic, Bachelors of Science in Information Assurance for his project “Differences and Similarities Between Traditional Kinetic and Cyber Warfare”, an academic research publication conducted in consultation with senior experts at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
2. TPU Chicago: Paul Hoffman, Masters Candidate, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago for his project to organize a Chicago Security Community Conference convening foreign policy focused institutions in the Chicago.
3. TPU Los Angeles: Reagan Odhner, Undergraduate in Economics, Stanford University for her project to develop a social impact measurement system for Rumi Spice, a veteran-run international businesses converting Afghan poppy farmers into spice farmers and traders.
The Atlantic Council awarded $8,000 of small grants through TPU and partnered with the University of Nebraska Omaha Foundation to award two additional $500 micro-grants to participants in the Omaha program. TPU challenge events and workshops were open to any and all student veterans, provided they could attend one of the events at their own cost. Events were attended by over 150 student veterans representing over twenty-five universities, colleges, vocational schools, and two-year schools in the greater LA, Chicago, and Omaha areas.