Turning a Test into a Testament: Call of Duty Endowment in 2020

by Gautham Appaya on Feb 26, 2021

For the Call of Duty Endowment (“C.O.D.E”), a non-profit organization supported by Activision Blizzard that helps veterans find high quality careers, its mission has never been more important.

In 2020, as the world began to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, projections indicated that transitioning service members and the veteran community would be reeling for the foreseeable future as a result of layoffs, hiring freezes and withdrawn offers. In their report, Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans, the Bob Woodruff Foundation projected that vast numbers of veterans were likely to become unemployed, potentially reaching the highest level of veteran unemployment in the post-9/11 era.

The Call of Duty Endowment was able to respond last year by placing 15,446 veterans in high-quality careers, by identifying and funding the most efficient and effective organizations that get unemployed veterans back to work.

The Endowment, anticipating the outsized economic impact upon the military community, immediately surveyed its employment partners to understand and identify approaches to enhance its support. This meant re-imagining its approach to social responsibility at a time when the world was operating remotely. The Endowment saw an opportunity during the lockdown to inform and engage a growing community of gamers, who were eager to show their support for veterans.

Throughout the year, the Endowment worked with Activision Blizzard to release special in-game content during key game moments, securing contributions and raising awareness about the social issues facing veterans. Also, the Endowment held its annual C.O.D.E Bowl, a charity esports tournament where professional streamers play Call of Duty with active service members. Only in its second year, the event raised more than $900,000 to support veteran employment and included all five branches of the U.S. military and three U.K. military branches. The newest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Space Force, won the tournament.

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When it mattered the most, the ‘ready-to-serve’ approach of the Endowment and its partners resulted in its highest impact year ever. While placing a record 15,446 veterans in a single year is in itself a major achievement, securing the highest quality placements ever is a testament to the singular focus and commitment of the organization and its partners.

Since 2009, the Endowment has funded the placement of over 81,000 veterans into quality jobs. In 2020, of the successful placements, 21% were women, and an estimated 28% were black; a source of great pride given that women veterans and black veterans compose just 10% and 12%, respectively, of the US veteran community.

While the success is gratifying, coinciding as it does with a time of great need, the extraordinary challenges remain. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard and Founder and Co-Chairman of the Call of Duty Endowment, exhorted companies to step up in an article that offered 3 Ways to Help Veterans Navigate the Job Market.

The efforts were further augmented through compelling media exposure highlighting the numerous challenges facing underserved veterans and the role the Endowment is playing.

“Our 2020 impact is gratifying, and it gives us momentum as we see the continuing headwinds facing the veteran community”, says Dan Goldenberg, Executive Director, Call of Duty Endowment. He adds, “Ultimately, our success stems from the success of the veterans we serve, and it’s critical we keep focused on our mission, which is to identify and fund the most efficient and effective organizations that place veterans in high quality jobs.”

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