How IVMF Helped 10,123 Military-Connected Individuals Earn Professional Certifications

The Institute for Veterans and Military Families leverages Skillsoft’s AI-powered learning platform to design experiences that enable veterans to translate their unique skill sets into civilian career paths.


Founded in 2011, the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University provides career training and education for post-9/11 veterans, active-duty service members, and their spouses. One of the IVMF’s most popular initiatives is Onward to Opportunity (O2O), a free program that helps veterans and their family members earn professional certifications in fields like HR, project management, and IT. To date, this program has reached 76,350 veterans.

“A lot of our active-duty service members leave the service and don’t have anything to go right into, so we like to serve as that bridge between their service and the long-term civilian career they’re looking for,” says Kimberly K, User Experience Manager at IVMF.

O2O provides participants with a range of resources, including no cost online and in-person training and certification prep, advisors to help navigate courses and career paths, and employment and alumni services. Learners who meet the program’s requirements are also eligible to have IVMF cover their certification exam fees.

While IVMF’s existing learning management system (LMS) offered self-paced training and a robust content library, the organization is always looking for ways to better meet the needs of more learners. The veterans and family members who enter O2O come from diverse backgrounds, with diverse skill levels and their own personal career goals. These busy adult learners need flexible, personalized learning options that help them translate their unique experiences into the careers that will set them up best for post-service success.


IVMF was, in Kimberly’s words, “ready for some innovation.” In particular, the organization wanted to deliver more intuitive and straightforward learning experiences that made it easier for learners to find the content and resources they need when they need them. Skillsoft, with its support for custom learning paths, turned out to be what IVMF was looking for.

“When we had the opportunity to migrate to Skillsoft’s latest platform, we jumped at it,” Kimberly says. “The fact that we can create custom journeys has been life-changing for both us as administrators and our learners.”

Using custom journeys, IVMF created curated paths for every certification it supports, from Project Management Professional (PMP) to IT certifications like CompTIA Cloud+ and CISSP. These curated paths combine Skillsoft’s certification prep content with IVMF’s own learning materials. They also include a convenient “next steps” section that helps learners understand what to do after completing their coursework.

“We can package all of those resources, whether they be custom or Skillsoft-owned, all together. That has been huge,” Kimberly says. “It has put learners completely in control of their pace and their progress. They can go to one location in the Skillsoft platform to find everything they need. They don’t have to search around for anything.”


“[Transitioning to Skillsoft] very much changed the experience for our learners. It was like night and day,” Kimberly says.

The custom journeys are more intuitive and straightforward for IVMF’s learners, and they’ve also enabled IVMF to offer participants even more support as they move through their O2O coursework. Now that learners can easily find everything they need, advisors spend less time fielding administrative questions and more time having quality conversations with participants, helping them think through big-picture questions about their career paths.

Skillsoft’s reporting capabilities also help advisors and program managers keep track of learner progress and lend a hand when necessary. When a participant completes their coursework, advisors can proactively reach out with the next steps for earning certification. If a learner falls behind, advisors can check in and offer support.

Looking forward, IVMF aims to expand its offerings to reach even more veterans and family members, regardless of their experience levels and career interests. The organization is constantly working to bring additional certifications to the program, and it’s currently developing a pilot for an aerospace and defense course.

“We’re always looking for new and on-demand pathways, researching the industries and roles that will be hiring in the next 5-10 years,” Kimberly says. “Ultimately, that’s what we’re always working toward.”



participants enrolled in O2O


certifications funded


employment outcomes

“[Transitioning to Skillsoft’s newest platform] very much changed the experience for our learners. It was like night and day. Now learners can go to one location in Skillsoft and not have to search around for the things they need. They’re completely in control of their pace and progress. The overall user experience now is the best that we could ever hope for.”




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The Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, educational, and policy issues impacting veterans and their families. Through its professional staff and experts, the IVMF delivers leading programs in career, vocational, and entrepreneurship education and training, such as O2O-VCTP, while also conducting actionable research, policy analysis, and program evaluations. The IVMF also supports communities through collective impact efforts that enhance delivery and access to services and care.