Sword & Plough has been in the making since its founders, Emily ’12 and Betsy Núñez (left), were born at West Point into a military family. Growing up watching their dad lead early morning battalion runs, sharing Thanksgiving dinners with hundreds of soldiers at mess halls, and watching their uncle, a Marine NASA Astronaut pilot, launch his space shuttle, are just a few of the experiences that inspired Emily to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army and start Sword & Plough with Betsy.
As one of only three Army ROTC cadets studying at Middlebury College and commuting to the University of Vermont for training, Emily sometimes found it difficult to relate her military commitment to her fellow classmates; many of whom had never met someone that served in the military. The Núñez sisters wanted to create something that would emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives and remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and servicemen face, and the power that every person has to help.
The mission of Sword & Plough is to employ veterans, reduce waste, and strengthen civilian understanding and appreciation for veterans. Through Sword & Plough bags, everyone can be a model for veteran empowerment and positive social change.
Sword & Plough was founded in 2012. Returning to Middlebury after attending the U.S. Army Airborne School, Emily cultivated the initial idea for Sword & Plough through close work with Middlebury’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship. Since then, Sword & Plough has participated in the Dell Social Innovation Lab, won first place and the Audience Choice Award at the Harvard Pitch for Change Competition, and pitched on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the Kairos Global Summit.
On April 15, Sword & Plough launched on Kickstarter. With an initial goal of raising $20,000, Emily and Betsy achieved and exceeded their goal in just three hours of going live on the site. They finished their Kickstarter campaign one month later, having raised $312,161 from 1,553 individual backers!
With the big impact of this project, Sword & Plough are receiving great press about their initiative, including this great article in Bloomberg Businessweek. They have also been featured on ABC News, Business Insider, Esquire, and many more. Recently, Emily and Betsy were awarded the honor of being on Forbes 30 under 30 list of Social Entrepreneurs.