A new computer doesn’t just help Suzanne McCurdy get through virtual business meetings without technical glitches -- it helps her become the polished professional she always strives to be.
“To have this professional setup, it gave me a professional mindset so that I could take my skill level up even further than it already was,” said McCurdy, an Air Force veteran and spouse of an Army officer. “That’s what really can catapult you into success.”
McCurdy is one of the recipients of MOAA's MilSpouse Remote Telework Grant, which provides tools for military spouses employed by a small business to work remotely. The program is managed by The MOAA Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation's Hiring Our Heroes program, with support from Microsoft.
[TELEWORK GRANT PROGRAM: Interested? Apply Online]
“With support from Microsoft, we are able to help these grant recipients and their small business employer overcome these obstacles and ensure the spouse has everything needed to maintain employment,” said Amanda Centers, executive director of The MOAA Foundation. “Our hope is the program will continue for years to come, enabling military spouses to continue pursuing their professional goals and allowing small businesses to retain these amazing employees.”
The program, which launched in 2019, provides grants to spouses of active duty servicemembers who are employed with a small business, or to small business owners who want to retain spouses on staff but do not have the resources or expertise to implement a remote work program or policy.
As part of the grant, the spouse and small business owner receive templates for work needs, such as contracts and company policies. They also receive a Microsoft Surface Pro laptop, docking station, keyboard, mouse, and antivirus and malware protection.
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McCurdy left the Air Force after 10 years of service and struggled to find traditional employment opportunities, believing most employers knew she would eventually leave when her husband received a new assignment. She pursued remote work, which she saw as more conducive to her husband’s Army schedule.
She landed a job with Instant Teams, a startup company founded by military spouses employing military-connected professionals in areas of writing, tech and customer support, social media management, and digital strategy. In her role as the head of team development, McCurdy conducts a lot of client meetings over video calls.
When she began the job in 2019, her laptop with outdated technology struggled to make it through video calls with clients. McCurdy said she was frustrated because she came skilled and ready to work, but her aging setup left an unprofessional impression on clients.
She learned about the telework grant and was delighted when she was selected. The equipment made it possible for her to conduct business, and even stream meetings, without glitches. More importantly, it changed her mindset.
“It gives me a higher sense of professional confidence to be able to deliver the information I need to deliver" to clients, she said. “That posture change really matters. Until (telework grant equipment) showed up, I didn’t realize how much it would change my professional confidence … and I don’t think you understand how much this can up level your career.”
'I Was in Big Need of an Upgrade'
The grant has also transformed employment for Liz Scruggs, a military spouse who has moved nine times in 16 years in support of her husband’s career in the Army.
The frequent moves made it difficult for Scruggs to find employment, but as remote work became more popular, she found more opportunities. Scruggs said she was thrilled to land a job as a sales director for Instant Teams, allowing her to build her management skills while supporting a company founded by other military spouses.
Once employed, her attention shifted to muddling through video chats on her decade-old computer to lead her team and excel in her new position. Her computer was unable to download the newest version of software her company used, so she did what she could and tried to fill in the gaps by also using her smartphone.
“My computer was slow and freezing all the time,” she said. “I was in big need of an upgrade to allow me to be more efficient.”
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Scruggs said she was embarrassed when she’d have to ask other teammates with new software to handle seemingly easy tasks, such as editing PDFs. She was also concerned her spotty connections could lead to missed opportunities.
She applied for the MOAA grant after learning about it from a colleague. The grant provided her with a new computer, but also wireless equipment so she can pick up to work from anywhere. A second monitor allows her to multitask in her home office, leading to an unexpected boost in productivity.
“This has been such a blessing,” Scruggs said. “Now I’m more professional in the remote environment. This grant and this equipment have been a game-changer for me.”
Apply for a Grant
The application window for the telework grant is open year-round.
The grant includes templates for contracts, company policies and other documents related to remote work. It also includes a Microsoft Surface Pro, docking station, wireless keyboard, wireless mouse and antivirus/malware protection.
Spouses of active duty servicemembers who are employed by a small business or small businesses that want to retain spouses of active duty servicemembers, but do not have the resources or expertise to implement a remote work policy, are eligible to apply.
Every Officer Has Two Families
For over 90 years, MOAA has been working to get servicemembers and their families the benefits they deserve.