Sierra Delta Inc.

Service | Dogs | Veterans

Madison, WI   |


Sierra Delta is a Not for Profit Community Based Member Network focused on providing support to our Military Veterans and Active Duty Service Members with curated Dog training grants and education and rewarding Service opportunities and community connection. Sierra Delta: Service | Dogs | Veterans

Notes from the nonprofit

By providing more options for veterans to access a dog trained to their individual needs and lifestyle by building a dynamic network of professional dog trainers, service dog providers, dog shelters, pet good companies, veteran service organizations, and so much more, Sierra Delta is working to solve the issue of providing more veterans access to service dogs before the year 2030 and to accomplish this mission we need your help!

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer/Founder

BJ Ganem

Executive Director

Adam Howarth

Main address

811 East Washington Ave Suite 400

Madison, WI 53703 USA

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Formerly known as

Service Dogs for Heroes



NTEE code info

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The rate of new service dogs being trained was essentially flat for US Veterans Wait times were up to 12-48 months Average cost to train a service dog was $35-50K Onboarding process alone was taking 2 months Only 1 in 150 Veterans were getting the benefits they need through current programs. Estimated that 150,000 veterans could benefit from expanded/improved programs within Medical Assistance Dogs. A large percentage of the remaining 18 million veterans can benefit from other curated dog training. Non veterans can benefit from unbiased expert advice on how to create a Life Buddy team with their dog. There are plenty of military Veterans who can benefit from a dog trained to their individual needs and lifestyle. There are plenty of dogs available within reputable and ethical organizations and causes. There are plenty of ethical and capable dog trainers and it is easy to create more. Sierra Delta's Life Buddy program delivers this help at scale sustainably and effectively.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Life Buddy

Sierra Delta believes that ALL Dogs have the potential to impact a Veteran’s life in a positive way especially when we provide the structure of a training program and community to celebrate accomplishments and inspire new ideas and practices to live life with a dog as a teammate, a Life Buddy. A Life Buddy can be a pet or a tested service dog and everything in between.
Sierra Delta contracts with professional dog trainers who meet our standards of dog training and community engagement; therefore, we depend on these professional, community minded entrepreneurs to verify the training standards by posting periodic video updates with our Veterans and their Life Buddy. Veterans are required to post periodic and regular updates via the Sierra Delta Community “Pawbook” available to all Sierra Delta Members.
A Life Buddy can be a "service dog" but a Life Buddy does not have to be a "service dog".

Population(s) Served

It means something to be a Member of the United States Armed Forces. That “meaning” is derived from Serving others and through enduring hard work with a team of people also as dedicated to Service to others. Sierra Delta believes that this “hard work” is essential to achieving overall wellness and that it is best “endured” with others. The Life Force is where the Sierra Delta Community of Members and Veterans can come together and “endure” some “hard work” together in their local communities to bring leadership and volunteerism to our local initiatives while simultaneously raising awareness to what it means to Serve others and to the many ways Dogs contribute to the epic lives of our Veterans.
Organizations can apply to join Sierra Delta’s Life Force by submitting a proposal or request for planning session to develop a partnership provides sustainable opportunities for people to provide Service to others and to raise awareness and funds to provide training grants to military Veterans.

Population(s) Served
Military personnel

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of Veterans served through the Life Buddy Program. This metric is an expansion of the listing in the Guidestar results.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Ethnic and racial groups, Caregivers, People with disabilities, Veterans

Related Program

Life Force

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Our metric is an expansions of the Service Dog metric as defined by Guidestar. We found that in our Veteran population 93% choose a Life Buddy vs. a full blown Service Dog.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Sierra Delta strives to connect service dogs with veterans through our network of established partner providers. We are a network of service dog organizations who work together to provide an effective resource for our nation's veterans. With the help of community partners, donors, and accredited service dog providers we are building long-term relationships to push the needle to assist veterans. Sierra Delta believes that by offering more ways for a veteran to gain access to dog training and by creating a specialized curriculum around caring for and communicating with a dog, that we can effectively and efficiently provide a wellness program that can provide positive outcomes for veterans and dogs at a scale big enough to solve the "service dogs for veterans" issue before 2030.

1. An Unbiased Source Of Information
We draw upon our expertise and military background to teach veterans about service dogs and the service dog industry. We provide one-on-one guidance to navigate the industry and recommend best-fit scenarios after we review an applicant's needs. We expedite the process of learning where to acquire a service dog and how to apply to help veterans transition quickly and successfully from military to civilian life.

2. Connecting Nonprofits With Veterans
With our partner providers, we have cultivated a network of nonprofit organizations with aligned missions of helping pair service dogs with veterans. From the west coast to the east coast, Sierra Delta has been an advocate for working together to improve our assistance to veteran applicants. We believe that pooling resources and connecting each individual to a partner provider that fits their needs will benefit our nation's heroes.

3. Pairing Service Dogs With Veterans
Many military veterans come home from service wounded, disabled, and with emotional needs. Service dogs are invaluable in providing the support some veterans need to continue productive and healthy lifestyles. By offsetting the costs associated with placing service dogs, we allow our partner providers to focus on what they do best, raising and training high-quality service dogs. As a result, we are able to pair more service dogs with veterans on a yearly basis.

4. A Wellness Program for ALL Veterans
Sierra Delta now allows ALL military veterans verified by IDme to join the Sierra Delta community and get instant access to resources that allow ALL veterans to enhance the relationship with their dog through training and an innovative curriculum that teaches ALL veterans how to care for and communicate with their dog so that more veterans can access the wellness benefits of having a trained dog in their life. We call this the Life Buddy program and ALL veterans whether they have a medical assistance service dog or just a companion service dog, they are ALL Life Buddies in the Sierra Delta community and the veterans can earn rewards by what they do with their dog and it all takes place on a digital platform so that Sierra Delta can provide the best resources and support no matter the public health restrictions being enforced at the time. This way we can help more veterans and more dogs create a more profound bond together giving ALL veterans access to a proven form of therapy with their dog. Sierra Delta believes that the veterans who have more acute issues should receive the more specialized service dogs; however, the bond between humans and dogs has long been proven to help in areas, of depression, anxiety, isolation and more and that many "able bodied" veterans struggle with these issues and it would be impossible to provide each of them a medical assistance service dog, but we can give them all a Life Buddy and a dynamic community of support!

Sierra Delta has a staff with military and veteran transition expertise as well as experts in dog training. We specialize in putting the veterans needs first and work with them on a one-on-one basis to fulfill their needs and improve their lifestyle through the companionship of trained service dogs. Sierra Delta also is the only organization in America with a fully functional digital platform that is also available in a mobile app that allows Sierra Delta to partner with professional dog trainers and veteran organizations to provide this needed wellness program to ALL verified military veterans at scale. Currently in the US, the total output of service dogs for veterans is 1,000 a year; with an estimated need of 150,000 veterans. Sierra Delta provided 1,000 veterans with access to training for a service dog (or what we prefer to call a Life Buddy) in 2021 equalling the total output of all other organizations combined! We are set to triple that amount in 2022 and to continually increase the access and support until the problem is solved and Sierra Delta believes we can solve this issue before 2030!

By creating a digital ecosystem that provides all veterans with the ability to access the training for their dog or a dog specifically trained to their needs and lifestyle, we are able to provide this proven therapy to our worthy veterans at scale for the first time ever. Not only does the Sierra Delta Life Buddy program ensure more veterans and dogs get access to a variety of training and support needed, we have also ensured long term engagement by gamifying the process. Veterans who have joined Sierra Delta earn points by caring for their dog, accomplishing a new training level or teaching their dog a new trick, or by performing community service like volunteering at a homeless shelter, and animal rescue shelter, speaking to schools, civic groups, etc about their service to our country or how their dog helps them with the challenges of transitioning back to society after military service, and more. With those points the veterans can redeem free gear, extreme discount codes, experiences like an a free trip to various vacation spots, a chance to play flag football against NFL Alumni and Celebrities, and so much more! Plus they can connect with other veterans and dog loving civilians who are apart of the Sierra Delta community and it is all focused on achieving better wellness through the love of dogs.

We have currently served over 700 veterans since 2017 and we are on pace to achieve our goal of getting 1,000 veterans into training in 2021 alone. In 2017 Sierra Delta was focused on providing large grants to the service dog academies thinking we could increase output. But what we learned is that the traditional model of providing service dogs for veterans is unsustainable and not what the majority of veterans need. Only 1% of veterans need or want a dog that level of service dog, the other 99% of veterans believe that a dog trained to their needs and lifestyle would greatly improve their ability to overcome the challenges they face in transition from the military and to help with the visible and invisible wounds they may or may not have from service to our country. In fact of the first 600 veterans that joined Sierra Delta 93% opted to for the Life Buddy program that allowed them to choose their dog and training curriculum and challenged them to be a bigger part of the training with guidance and support from the app and professional trainers in their area paid for by Sierra Delta. This is remarkable because by offering these services we can more effectively help more veterans and dogs for 10x less the money being spent in the traditional model. Currently, the average cost of providing a veteran a pre trained dog is $35k per dog and that does not come with the dynamic community and follow on services like that of which Sierra Delta provides. In the Sierra Delta model we are seeing an average of $3,500 for the life of the dog per veteran! No matter which service dog provider the veteran chooses or has already received a dog from they can join Sierra Delta and earn rewards and connect with other dog loving veterans and grateful civilians. By offering ALL veterans access to dog training that best meets their individual needs and lifestyle we can greatly reduce the demand for the specially bred and trained medical assistance dogs being offered by the service dog academies and therefore allow the veterans who need those services the most get into those programs quicker; the average wait time is 2 years currently. Sierra Delta is proud to partner with over 100 service dog academies, professional dog trainers, veteran service organizations, corporations, and more who believe we, as American citizens, can at the very least show our gratitude for ALL who have served by ensuring they have a dog trained to their specific needs and lifestyle.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback


Sierra Delta Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Sierra Delta Inc.

Board of directors
as of 04/06/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Adam Holton


Term: 2018 - 2024

Chris Bishop

Jacqui Grant

BJ Ganem

Anthony Casarona

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/5/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Lebanese/Middle Eastern
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation

No data


We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 04/06/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.