Black Diamond Charities and the Veterans PMP Program at PMI Chicagoland

This past Wednesday it was Veterans Day here in the United States, and that got me thinking about the program I volunteered for at the Chicagoland chapter of the Project Management Institute in conjunction with Black Diamond Charities that helps veterans or those who are active duty military personnel who are thinking of pursuing a career in project management

The Veterans PMP program consists of the following three phases:

  1. PMP Instruction (5 weeks)
  2. PMP mentoring (2 weeks)
  3. PMP study group (12 weeks)

Black Diamond Charities (referred hereafter as BDC) goes to where active duty military or veterans are likely to be in the Chicagoland area, such as the Great Lakes Naval Station or the U.S. Army Reserve Training Center, and recruits those who might be interested in the program.   Once they express interest and are enrolled in the next group of candidates for the program, BDC coordinates with the Director of Social Outreach at PMI Chicagoland chapter to get volunteer instructors for the program.    I volunteered to be involved in all phases this time around.

The program started last year around this time and had about 15 participants.    The second round of the program was this summer and had about 30 participants.    The third round that started in October of this year had about 15 participants as well.

PMP Instruction

This phase gives 35 hours of general instruction in project management, and was given by a team of about half a dozen instructors, including myself.     Besides the instruction, the participants were split up into three teams of 5 people each and given the assignment of creating an idea for a project, and not only doing all of the project documents (such as the project management plan), but doing a presentation to the group on the final day of class explaining the project and showing those documents to the project sponsors.    It not only gives them the theoretical foundation through the classroom instruction, but also gives them a hands-on example of what doing a real project is like.

PMP Mentoring

This is a group mentoring session, where we ask the participants from the first phase what topics they would like to hear about more.   The instructor group then gives presentations on these topics split into 2 Saturday mornings.

PMP Study Group

For those that are serious about going on to take the exam, I run a PMP Study Group which covers one chapter of the PMBOK Guide every week.    This not only presents the material in detail, as opposed to the high-level introduction that was done in the PMP Instruction phase.    I will probably do that again this next time, although I’m thinking of doing an online WebEx webinar rather than an in-person study group like I did last time.

Today was the graduation day for the PMP Instruction, and all three groups did great presentations.    I knew they were all nervous about doing well on their presentations, and the relief in the room was palpable when they were done, as was the done they all showed in receiving that completion certificates.

Personally, I got a lot of helping the veterans and feel that my five weeks I sacrificed on their behalf can only repay a fraction of their sacrifice they have already made.    I hope to be involved in the next round of the program and hope that more volunteers from PMI Chicagoland can assist us in this very worthwhile effort!


One Response

  1. Kudos to you Jerome, you put your time and effort where most people’s mouth only begins to start. Well done!

    David Thompson, PMP
    Salt Lake City, Utah

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