Our Mission

Fostering life-changing opportunities for those facing economic and educational barriers

We put youth and families at the center of all our work and care. Flourish provides a safe and healthy home environment, supportive relationships and development opportunities. Our hope is to support all aspects of well-being so individuals can move from surviving to thriving.

Equity, trust, and collaboration are the three values that fuel the Flourish Initiative. We prioritize evidence-based, strengths-based services.

A key piece of the Flourish Initiative is our partnership with Douglass High School.

Our Story

The Flourish Initiative was born out of the dedicated efforts of Veterans United employees and funding from Veterans United Foundation. As a separate 501c3 entity, our goal is to weave resources and relationships together so that all youth flourish.

In 2019, a team of 20 employees from Veterans United Home Loans spent time listening, learning and exploring ways to impact our local community for years to come. Over 100 in-depth interviews were conducted with leaders from all over Columbia.

We learned that educational opportunities can be a driving force of creating sustainable change for youth and breaking the cycle of economic inequality. Although we know change doesn’t happen overnight, we are committed to being a part of the long game of working together to enhance lives in our community.

We are starting in Columbia, Missouri but as Flourish grows, the intent is to share the program with other foundations and communities to replicate.

Our Staff

Mark Kirchhoff, Program Coordinator 

Our Board
  • Loreli Wilson, Director of People Services at Veterans United – Board President
  • Rae Cooper, Social Impact Program Manager at Veterans United – Board Treasurer
  • Dr. Rebekah Freese, LCSW, Director of Eating Disorders Program at St. Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Principal at Douglass High School
  • Claire Slama, Behavioral Support Specialist with Columbia Public Schools
  • Joe Ellison, Vice President of Capital at Veterans United
  • Jewell Simms, Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion – Board Secretary.

The Flourish Initiative is rooted in the sense of community and care that exists at Veterans United. I’m so excited to work together. That's what our children need.

Dr. Eryca NevillePrincipal, Douglass High School