$1.8 million in grants benefit Fox Valley groups

Needs partnership awards benefit more than 80 organizations
By Larry Avila Post-Crescent Media
June 16, 2013

Green Bay — Dozens of programs and initiatives that offer assistance to people in need across northeast Wisconsin will receive a nearly $1.8 million boost.

The Basic Needs Giving Partnership today announced it will award grants to more than 80 Fox Valley-area groups who are working to address assorted community issues from domestic violence to social development for children. The partnership is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Venture Open Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation Inc., the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

This year’s cumulative grant awards total of $1,772,473 is $344,544 more than last year’s figure of $1,427,929.

Sarah Schmidt, director of the U.S. Venture Open, an annual golf outing fundraiser, said all proceeds from the event benefit the basic needs fund.

“Last year’s golf outing raised about $1.86 million,” Schmidt said. “We’ve had just incredible support from the community (for that event) and it’s just grown year after year.”

More money raised from the golf outing, whose costs are covered by Kimberly-based U.S. Venture, means more dollars for grant awards, she said. The improving economy and better financial market performance also has benefited the investments of the basic needs fund.

Schmidt said community support is behind the success to help the fund address the root causes of poverty.

“Even through the recession, we’ve been able to inspire such generous support to fund basic needs,” she said.

A collaboration between Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs, COTS and the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities will receive a $70,000 grant this year. It will be the first installment of a three-year grant totaling $145,000.

The dollars will be used to hire a full-time economic advocate position, said Beth Schnorr, executive director of Harbor House in Appleton. That person will work with domestic abuse victims, teaching them job skills and work with area businesses to help those individuals get back on their feet.

“One of the main reasons victims of domestic violence cannot leave an abusive situation is due to economic reasons,” Schnorr said. “The advocate will work with women to help them improve their skills and work with employers on job development and hopefully get new placement for some of our women so they can support themselves.”

The initiative is the first of its kind in the Fox Cities area, Schnorr said.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity because something like this has not been done before,” she said. “We’re just beginning this project and what’s great about it, is that it’s a collaboration between three agencies, so it’s an effort that is bringing groups together in new ways.”

— Larry Avila: 920-993-1000, ext. 292, or lavila@postcrescent.com; on Twitter @LarryAvila