More than 1,100 attendees raised $4.13 million in Wednesday’s U.S. Venture Open, the nation’s single largest one-day charitable event dedicated to ending poverty.
In the event’s 33 years, the U.S. Venture Open has raised more than $42.45 million with more than $5.56 million in new grant commitments last year alone to nonprofits in Northeast Wisconsin.
“We are continually overwhelmed with the ongoing generosity of our partners and our community,” U.S. Venture CEO and President John Schmidt said in a statement. “This event was founded with the intent of neighbors helping neighbors, but our efforts have allowed us to fight the root causes of poverty throughout Northeast Wisconsin and beyond.”
This year’s special guest — retired Olympian Michael Phelps — spent the day golfing at the event and treated dinner guests at Van Abel’s in Hollandtown to a live interview. He said attending the U.S. Venture Open was an easy decision.
“It’s truly incredible to see what you are doing to allow so many other people to have these amazing opportunities,” Phelps said in a statement. “It shows what dreams can push you to do. You see a lot of people in this (organization) that have very big dreams to change lives, and they’re doing it one day at a time.”
Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture, noted this year’s event is the first time every dollar raised will go directly to grantmaking within the next year. In past years, grantmaking was done from a percentage of the endowment as it grew to create long-term sustainability
This year’s event also marks the 10th anniversary of the J. J. Keller Foundation’s participation as a giving partner making donations totaling $8 million over the last decade. The J. J. Keller Foundation matches the Basic Needs Giving Partnership’s grantmaking budget annually up to $800,000.
“A handshake between two generations of Kellers and Schmidts brought to life the Basic Needs Giving Partnership and will continue for years to come,” Heidi Ducek, executive director of the J. J. Keller Foundation Inc. said in a statement. “Since that handshake agreement 10 years ago, we have inspired others to give, fostering innovation and exemplifying collaboration to address root causes of poverty in Northeast Wisconsin.”
For Wednesday’s events, golfers spread out at six area golf courses.
U.S. Venture underwrites all costs of the event and has done so since the inception. Funds from the event are held within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, with grants made to collaborating nonprofit organizations in Northeast Wisconsin.