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.

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.

Steps to Flourish Infographic - The Flourish Initiative

What is Flourish?

Flourish is an independent nonprofit organization serving youth encountering educational and economic barriers founded by Veterans United, in partnership with Veterans United Foundation. The mission of Flourish is to weave resources and relationships together so all youth can flourish, by providing youth with housing, basic needs funding, scholarships, internships, and mentorships.

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 Impact

Currently, Flourish focuses on providing resources to individuals in Boone County. We’ve provided housing, scholarships, and other resources for hundreds of youth since our beginning in 2019. Our purpose is to interrupt cycles of poverty and support youth however we can as they work toward a better future.

Our Staff
  • Mark Kirchhoff, Director of Housing & Basic Needs
  • Jessica Macy, Coordinated Entry Specialist
  • John Martin III, Program Coordinator
  • Megan Orscheln, Program Coordinator 
  • Mel Constantine Miseo, Program Coordinator
  • Ember Shanks, Youth Specialist (full-time)
  • Linnea Kelly, Youth Specialist (full-time)
  • Sterling Waldman, Youth Specialist (full-time)
Our Board
  • Loreli Wilson, Director of People Services at Veterans United – Board President
  • Jewell Simms, IT Manager at Veterans United – Board Secretary
  • Rae Cooper, Social Impact Program Manager at Veterans United – Board Treasurer
  • Dr. Eryca Neville, Principal at Douglass High School
  • Claire Slama, Student Support Specialist at Columbia Public Schools
  • Joe Ellison, Vice President of Capital Markets at Veterans United

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

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