Since spring, when Brandon Mammano won the 2019 Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation, the college freshman has seen his dinner-table idea develop into a global initiative that could launch in early 2020.
Mammano, a freshman mechanical engineering major at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, has worked with global technology and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton – sponsor of the award – to grow his vision for helping children of military members adapt to new schools and communities when their families are reassigned.
“It feels like a dream,” said Mammano, the son of Mimi and John Mammano, an Air Force colonel stationed at Hickham AFB in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “It started as a dinner conversation with my parents, and now it’s something that can help people across the United States and globally.”
The Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation is one of seven awards presented by Operation Homefront to celebrate the achievements of military children. Nominations are open through Dec. 9, and awards will be presented April 2 in Washington, D.C.
The annual awards recognize outstanding young people ages 13 to 18 who are legal dependents of a service member or military retiree. Six Military Child of the Year recipients will represent a branch of the armed forces — the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard — demonstrating resiliency, leadership, and achievement during their parents’ military service. The innovation award goes to a military child who has designed a bold and creative solution to address a local, regional, or global challenge.
The 19-year-old Mammano based his initiative on the outreach program for active-duty service members. He worked with his father’s unit to include a welcome letter to help ease the stress of students who are starting over.
Mammano understands that stress. By the time he was a senior in high school, his family had moved eight times. His longest stay in one school was three years. That, he said, was lucky.
“Even though I’ve moved around, it’s still hard finding out what there is to do (in a new community) and what clubs (a school) has,” he said. “I wanted to give kids an idea of what they have before they arrive (at their new school).”
Now, less than a year after winning the MCOY Award for Innovation, Mammano has seen his idea blossom from abstract to concrete with input from the Booz Allen Hamilton team.
“Seeing the different routes and paths they’ve thought of is absolutely amazing,” he said. The project has grown to include a website and an application that makes it easier for students to connect with peers in their new communities.
“They can start making plans with friends before they arrive,” Mammano said.
The program is set to launch in the Washington, D.C., area and Europe in early 2020. As Mammano looks forward to the roll-out, he is also relishing the experience.
“I have been very blessed to have won this award because it has given me the opportunity to work with Booz Allen Hamilton and see how they … break down all these processes to get a job done. It’s breath-taking to see that,” he said.
“This program has taught me so much that I can use in whatever endeavor I pursue in life.”
To nominate a child for the MCOY Award for Innovation or another MCOY award, visit www.militarychildoftheyear.org and click the Nominations tab.