Matt Miclette, Action Tank member and Pat Tillman Scholar, speaks at the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit about Medically Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction. Read more about the Pat Tillman Foundation.
Action Tank is proud to announce that our member, Matt Miclette, will participate in a panel discussion on “Policy & Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic” at SXSW 2019! More information can be found here.
Action Tank, a non-profit group, founded and based in Philadelphia, PA honored with the 2018 SXSW Community Service Awards. The group is comprised of veterans focused on continuing service to their community after their service in uniform.
AUSTIN, TX (March 12, 2018) -- In the annual famous gathering of techies, producers creators and artists, known as South by Southwest, aka SXSW, a small group of Veterans from Philadelphia were recognized on the national stage in Austin, TX. Action Tank, was picked to receive the 2018 SXSW Community Service Awards for their work they’ve done to start, grow and run a non-profit focused on making an impact in their community. The awards ceremony brought together 6 individuals from 6 organizations around the country to honor them for their work in doing good for their respective causes.
They were all presented with a financial grants to help fund their work for the next year.
Chris Diaz, the organization’s executive director and co-founder was joined by their policy director, Matt Miclette. Chris, a Navy Veteran and Pat Tillman scholar currently pursuing his PhD at Drexel University in clinical psychology said, “it’s surreal to be here, in Austin, TX, recognized for the work we’ve done as a collective group over the last year. Part of me is honored to be here and to help spread the word that Veterans want to continue to serve and be an integral part of our community, even after wearing the uniform. Part of me is also humbled because we [Action Tank] believe there is still so much work to be done.”
Action Tank was formed when like-minded Veterans from Philadelphia gathered for a meal on Veterans Day in 2016. They wanted to give back, but they were not quite sure how to do so.
Philadelphia, unfortunately, has been heavily impacted by the Nation’s opioid crisis, and so, for 2017, the group set their eyes on helping to support their community and those that dedicate their daily lives to that issue.
Their intent is that every year they will focus on a new issue in their community. 2017 was the opioid crisis - volunteering at drug and addiction clinics, cleaning up needles in parks and introducing policy and legislation that will reduce overdoses and ultimately save lives.
In 2018, the group is focused on food safety and insecurity, and currently working to form relationships with key partners in the area who needs support and can help educate the rest of the community on the issue.
Diaz explained further that “we each served our country because we felt a calling. Now that we’re Veterans and living in our community, that calling hasn’t subsided, and this is our way to continue to serve. We hope that we can inspire other Veterans in their communities to do the same, and even reach out, to collaborate and open their own ‘Action Tank’ chapters around the country.”
About Action Tank
Action Tank tackles tough problems by harnessing the experiences, skills, and relationships of service-minded citizens to improve the social conditions of our community.
They are a group of Philadelphia-area military veterans who formed a new type of service organization. Beyond just thinking about the problems facing our community, they act by engaging their skills, resources and relationships.
They believe they have learned the necessity of this social capital - and who better to take on these societal problems than those who have previously taken on these challenges together, in uniform and service to the country? They believe that their experience as Veterans has led to a unique type of growth and resilience that can be leveraged for the benefit of our community. Philadelphia, with her rich history of serving as the founding city of our military branches, is perfectly suited to launch this initiative.
Action Tank is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our Employer Identification Number is 82-2327032.
About SXSW Community Service Awards
The SXSW Community Service Awards celebrate the spirit of community in Austin that we think is unique to SXSW by selecting six individuals and six organizations to receive grants to further their goals, complimentary badges to SXSW, and a chance to spread the word about their work to the SXSW community. These outstanding organizations and individuals selected as 2018 honorees will receive more than $50,000 in grants and were honored in a ceremony on March 12, 2018 during SXSW.
When selecting these honorees, we looked for uniqueness, level of impact, clarity of mission, relationship to Austin, and the SXSW community. All of these individuals and organizations are reflections of those qualities. Read below for more information about the 12 honorees and please join us in March to celebrate their achievements.
A group of Philadelphia-area post-9/11 Veterans formed a new type of service organization in November 2016. Beyond just thinking about the problems facing our community, we are acting by engaging our skills, resources and relationships, hence our name, Action Tank.
“The ultimate, most holy form of theory is action.” by Nikos Kazantzakis
The idea for Action Tank was born at an impromptu lunch on Veterans Day in 2016, when Chris Diaz, Navy veteran, persuaded a dozen veteran friends to join him for a meal. The veterans who showed up—all of whom had served in different branches of the service and now worked in a variety of industries—were surprised that they lived and operated in Philadelphia for several years but had never crossed paths. They were also moved by the conversation that afternoon: about service and community and the desire they all shared to continue to serve in the place they called home. They left that lunch committed to do more.
The nonpartisan group has acted boldly. To start, Action Tank has set its sights on helping to address Philadelphia’s opioid crisis, one of the greatest challenges to the city in at least a generation. Fortunately, a founding member of the organization is Matthew Miclette, an Army veteran currently conducting policy research at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the foremost experts in the city on curbing opioid addiction. Action Tank has already issued a clarion call and has met formally with members of the Philadelphia City Council and influential nonprofit organizations to propose solutions and offer the services of its members in this fight. Those members include attorneys, entrepreneurs, scientists, nonprofit directors and candidates for public office. All of them are determined to do what it takes to move Philadelphia forward in the face of this terrible epidemic.
Six months from the initial lunch meeting, several service projects and a dozen more members later, Action Tank is a thing—specifically, as its mission statement reads, “Action Tank solves tough problems aimed at improving the social conditions of their community by harnessing the experiences, skills and relationships of service-minded citizens.” Much is written about the divide that exists between civilians and veterans or how veterans are somehow “broken” from their service. Our focus is not on our differences, but on what binds us together.
Action Tank has observed the erosion of people’s willingness to work and live for the function of an effective society. We have learned the necessity of this social capital. Who better to take on these societal problems than those who have previously taken on these challenges together? Our experience as veterans has led to a unique type of growth and resilience that can be leveraged for the benefit of our community. Philadelphia, with her rich history of serving as the founding city of our military branches, is perfectly suited to launch this initiative.
The above article was written by Action Tank member Ryan Peters and adapted from the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, Vol. 46, No. 7 from July 2017.
“There is this idea of the veteran being broken,” Diaz said, “when in reality we’ve demonstrated again and again being civic assets.”
Read an interview with Billy Penn featuring group members Chris Diaz, Ryan Peters and Matt Miclette.