In 2008, Sidney Goodfriend, an investment banker with an impressive, multi-decade Wall Street resume, was ready to support service members. The events of 9/11 had
affected him deeply, and he was looking for a way to give back. That’s when he founded American Corporate Partners (ACP), an organization that pairs mentors with veterans in
transition from active-duty service to civilian life to help them find meaningful, long-lasting careers.
ACP began with six corporate partners and mostly paired executives with participating veterans. As the program grew, dozens more corporations signed on, from Coca-Cola
to Deutsche Bank and Disney to Boston Scientific. Today, ACP works with military spouses as well, and has expanded to include guidance not just for corporate
opportunities, but also public service. Mentors work with protégés on a range of skills, topics, and questions. Some of the key points of guidance include how to translate a
military resume to the civilian arena and how to network; what to expect in job interviews and how to prepare for them.
ACP asks that pairs work together for at least an hour a month for one year. Along the way, associates from the organization check in to offer job-finding resources and other
support. But often, mentors go far above and beyond the basics, from taking mentees to observe potential places of employment to sharing their own experiences post-military
service and in civilian life.
Program protégé Marques Purvis, for example, is an active-duty member of the US Army and partnered with a mentor to help him begin his transition to the next phase of
his career. In the months since starting the program, he says, his mentor has transcended a formal role and become a close friend and ally.
“[My mentor] is an amazing guy,” says Purvis. “A veteran of the Navy. He’s constantly sending me job recs, saying ‘What do you think about this job?,’ or ‘your resume
matches up with that.’ He’s very helpful in making sure that I have my feet under me once I transition out of the military.”
That kind of alignment is due in part to ACP’s care in making matches. The process starts with an online application; servicemembers and veterans interested in the
program can apply here (potential mentors can apply here). It takes about 15 minutes to complete, and asks prospective protégés about their military experience, what industries they might be interested in, and what they’re looking for in a mentor. From there, ACP looks for potential matches in its mentor database, and then speaks
with each potential mentor and protégé before proceeding with an introduction. Once an introduction happens, the mentoring pair can set up meetings and calls, with support
when needed from ACP. The entire process is fast, free, and highly personalized.
Since ACP launched, the program has had more than 24,000 veteran alumni. And the advantages for those protégés are significant. According to Jana Toner, an SVP at the
organization, not only do veterans who go through ACP’s mentorship program earn more to start, on average, but they also tend to stay in their first post-service jobs.
The average starting salary for non-ACP alumni, she says, is $54,000. That’s in stark contrast to program alums who started their jobs during the mentorship, with an average
$86,000 annual salary.
When it comes to job retention, the numbers are similar. On average, 56% of veterans stay in their first post-service jobs for at least one year. Among ACP participants, that
number jumps to 86%. In 2021 alone, 2,328 ACP alumni found meaningful employment.
For veterans interested in the ACP mentorship, Purvis—the protégé currently serving in the Army—recommends giving it a try. “We [military personnel] don’t know everything,” he says. “That veteran [mentor] may know the answer. And if not, they will go above and beyond to get you the answer that you’re looking for.”
Yet it’s not only the protégés who benefit from ACP’s mentorship program. Mentors who participate also tend to find deep personal satisfaction. Karen Bell, one of the program mentors, likes seeing the potential in her protégés, and helping them surpass their own expectations. “One of my strengths is I like to help people grow and develop,” she says. “I like to see people beyond where they see themselves. That has been truly a blessing with ACP, to maybe inspire and motivate individuals and help them to see their intrinsic value.”
And that is precisely the mutual value of what Goodfriend had in mind when he created the organization: helping returning veterans who served their country, and inspiring
others to get involved and give back, too. “Most people want to help, but they don’t know how, outside of writing a check,” he told Business Insider in a 2013 interview. “The people receiving, the folks who served — they don’t view it as a charity. They see this only as seeking advice and guidance from a person they respect.”