The U.S. Venture Open — the nation’s single-largest one-day charity golf outing — is bringing some star power to its annual event, which will be held Aug. 14 at golf courses across Northeast Wisconsin.
Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey will headline this year’s event with a personal appearance at the golf outing and an interview at the dinner reception held for registered guests that evening at Van Abel’s of Hollandtown.
While McConaughey is best known for his film roles, he and his wife Camila founded the just keep livin (jkl) Foundation to empower high school students by providing them tools to lead active lives and make healthy choices for a better future. The foundation’s mission is what attracted U.S. Venture to invite McConaughey to the open, says John Schmidt, president and CEO of U.S. Venture Inc.
“U.S. Venture is committed to eliminating the root causes of poverty, and this event is truly a community-wide endeavor,” he says. “We are proud to welcome Matthew McConaughey, whose foundation is making an impact by increasing students’ test scores, grades and graduation rates. We know a solid education is a key indicator in breaking the cycle of poverty.”
The U.S. Venture Open started 33 years ago with 100 golfers. Today, more than 1,100 people participate at six area golf courses — the Oneida Golf and Country Club, Green Bay; North Shore Golf Club, Menasha; Thornberry Creek, Oneida; Fox Valley Golf Club, Kaukauna; Butte des Morts Country Club, Appleton; and Wander Springs Golf Course, Greenleaf.
Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture, says the company underwrites all event costs and has done so since it first began. The money raised is distributed through the Basic Needs Giving Partnership to help fight poverty in the region. Funds 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 the region.
The just keep livin Foundation implemented after-school fitness programs in 33 inner-city high schools with the goal to “prevent, so we don’t have to cure later in life,” says Shannon Rotenberg, executive director of the just keep livin Foundation. The foundation encourages students to make positive life choices that improve their physical and mental health through exercise, teamwork, gratitude, nutrition and community service.
Rotenberg says students attending the program have access to fitness coaches and health experts, which creates a safe and supportive environment for them to set goals, get in shape and build confidence. As a result, schools notice better test scores, grades, attendance and behavior.
“We’re grateful for the generous support of the U.S. Venture Open,” she says. “Their commitment to eradicating poverty is truly inspiring, and we’re honored to be a beneficiary of their philanthropic efforts focusing on improving the lives of our youth.”
Since its first outing in 1986, the U.S. Venture Open has raised more than $42 million and given out $26 million in grants. In 2018, more than $1.6 million in new grants was awarded to 200 nonprofit organizations. Funds from the event also lead to collaboration between funders and nonprofit organizations. The Basic Needs Giving Partnership was launched in 2007 when the J. J. Keller Foundation offered to match the grantmaking. This year, the foundation will match up to $800,000 for grants distributed and will be joined by lead partners Oshkosh Corp., Thrivent Foundation and ThedaCare.