Although this project has concluded, if you would still like to make a donation to support ELeVATE, you may always do so here.

ELeVATE: Opening Doors for Veterans

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
34 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on January 06, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

ELeVATE: Opening Doors for Veterans

Experiential Learning for Veterans in Assistive Technology and Engineering (ELeVATE)

For our returning servicemen and women, attending college is one of the most critical - and daunting - steps in their post-military lives. While they have been trained to perform in hostile environments, entering a classroom offers a different set of challenges that require a different type of support, such as ELeVATE, a holistic transition program that supports veterans interested in STEM careers and educates faculty and staff on how to prepare veterans for success. 

ELeVATE, housed in the University of Pittsburgh's Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), is a three-phase program designed to assist wounded, injured, and ill veterans with the transition into a science, technology, engineering (STEM) program of study, with a special emphasis on assistive technology and engineering. 

ELeVATE opens doors to academic support, mentoring, contacts, and friendships that provide benefits long after students complete the program. 

How You Can Help

Your contribution will help raise $10,000 to cover the living stipends for two veterans during the 10-week, on-campus portion of the summer 2023 ELeVATE program. Funds raised above our goal will be applied to stipends for other ELeVATE participants.

Why ELeVATE is Important

ELeVATE participants engage in experiential learning, rehabilitation counseling, mentoring, academic preparation and career exposure activities. The components are designed to increase self-efficacy and outcome expectations which help participants achieve their performance goals as they enroll in and complete engineering and technology degree programs, and pursue a graduate degree or employment in engineering and technology.

ELeVATE participants join an assistive technology deep-dive at UPMC's Center for Assistive Technology during the summer 2022 cohort.

We're proud to say that Josh Marino, a Purple Heart recipient, is a graduate of the ELeVATE program. After completing his Master's degree, Josh joined the HERL as a full-time staff member and continues to serve his fellow servicemen and women as they enter college.

Josh Marino (Left) and Founder of HERL, Dr. Rory A. Cooper (right) honoring Summer Interns at the 2022 Human Engineering Research Laboratories Open House. 

"I had such a positive experience in the ELeVATE program. I learned so much about new technology currently available and (hopefully) soon to be available, resources for my future patients in the military and out, research process experience, and much more. Not only did I learn so much but I was surrounded by others within the program that were welcoming, passionate, and excited to teach me and help develop me into a better future occupational therapist." Quinne Johnson, Occupational Therapy Doctoral Student; University of Pittsburgh Class of 2024; 2LT, US Army.

HERL Elevate Intern with HERL staff testing out a new board game which will include elements (of design) for people with or without disability, automated vehicles, and other ideas within a fictional urban landscape.

About HERL

Founded by Dr. Rory Cooper in 1994, the mission of the HERL has been to continuously improve the mobility and function of veterans and individuals with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation. HERL is dedicated to advancing education and career opportunities for veterans in STEM-fields.


Contributions received for this project shall be used in accordance with the purpose described herein, the terms in the FAQs and applicable law. For questions that cannot be answered in the FAQs, please call 412-648-4658 or email

Choose a giving level



Your contribution will allow a vet to take that first step towards a STEM career.



A contribution at this level will help cover the cost of program materials.



Your contribution at this level lets vets know they have a strong support network during their program.



Your contribution at this level will cover the cost of preparing a vet's poster board presentation.



A contribution at this level will help cover the housing stipend provided to vets during enrollment in ELeVATE.



You are a game-changer. Your contribution will be the catalyst for future success in a STEM field for a deserving veteran.



The servicemen and women who defend our liberties deserve our unwavering support. Your gift will honor their commitment to country and support them as they begin a new chapter in their lives.



Courage. Excellence. Character. Characteristics that define the soldier, and traits that will play an important role for former military as they enter college. Your gift signifies the highest level of respect and will instill confidence during their academic career.

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