Though the J. J. Keller Foundation is a separate entity from J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., a variety of opportunities have been developed over the years to allow the two to work together to benefit the community. From small efforts like Christmas giving projects to large-scale programs that consume hundreds of hours of corporate time, the result is always the same – the Fox Valley is a better place because of the presence of the Foundation and the company.
The Keller family has long had a soft spot in its heart for Habitat for Humanity. The Greater Fox Cities Area Habitat affiliate has benefited significantly from the gifts of time, talent and treasure by the Keller family and by associates of the company.
In 2015, this commitment and generosity led to the construction of the 12th home funded entirely by the Kellers, this time in Neenah. The Foundation also partnered with other funders for the 10th time in 2015, this time contributing to the 200th home built by the Fox Cities Habitat. The Sierra family cut the ribbon on their new home just in time for Christmas, to the delight of their two small children.
The Keller family is the largest funder of the Fox Cities Habitat affiliate, having invested more than $1.5 million in the organization, mostly on home builds. The Foundation also funds Habitat for Humanity of Oshkosh and Green Bay. In total, more than $1.7 million in funds from the family foundation and the John J. and Ethel D. Keller Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region has been designated for this important work over the years.
A Creative Way to Fund Poverty Efforts
When it comes to funding poverty-related efforts in the Fox Valley, the family names “Keller” and “Schmidt” are at the top of the list. The two families have their roots in the Fox Cities, both having founded very successful family businesses in the area. For many years they admired each other’s philanthropic work from afar, but in 2008 they initiated a funding collaboration that has become a difference-maker throughout the Green Bay-Fox Valley-Oshkosh region. The Basic Needs Giving Partnership started by the Schmidts and Kellers has grown to include other funders and nonprofit organizations passionate about fighting poverty-related causes in Northeast Wisconsin.
Over the past 30 years, the Schmidt family has raised funds for basic human needs via the U.S. Venture Open. It is one of the largest and most-successful one-day golf fundraisers in the country, featuring guest appearances by the likes of pro golfers Arnold Palmer and Nancy Lopez, Green Bay Packers player Donald Driver and Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron. Proceeds funnel into the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Over the past eight years, the Kellers have given $5.9 million in matching grants distributed by the Partnership. Funding is earmarked for collaborative efforts that offer creative solutions to fighting poverty at its roots – helping people living in Northeastern Wisconsin gain self-sufficiency.
The 2015 outing saw a record $3.57 million raised at the unique event on six local golf courses. The evening banquet for 900+ people in a specially constructed outdoor tent featured former coach Bo Ryan of the Wisconsin Badgers basketball team.
Since 1986, the U.S. Venture Open Fund for Basic Needs and the Basic Needs Giving Partnership has given $16.9 million in grants to fight the root causes of poverty in Northeastern Wisconsin. The Kellers are very proud of their relationship with the Schmidt family, founders of U.S. Venture, as they partner on this important effort.
Catalpa Health – A Dream Come True
The late Ethel D. Keller was an early supporter of the effort to better serve Fox Valley children with mental health needs. She and granddaughter Marne Keller-Krikava championed the cause together until Ethel’s unexpected death in 2004, when Marne took the lead. The Keller family saw Ethel’s dream come true when Fox Valley Children’s Mental Health Center opened its doors on the Goodwill Industries campus in Menasha. The Center eventually morphed into a much-larger operation on multiple sites now known at Catalpa Health.
Catalpa Health is dedicated to helping children and families improve their mental health and wellness. To that end, Catalpa focuses on providing better access for families and children needing mental health services; collaborating with community care partners to coordinate that care; building and expanding on partnerships to foster better outcomes; delivering “upstream solutions” for prevention and to break down barriers and stigmas that surround mental health.
Catalpa Health has served more than 19,000 individual patients and had more than 95,000 patient visits since opening, far exceeding expectations. A new Access Center was opened in April 2014 to reduce patient wait times, provide case management and create personalized care plans. That development doubled the size of the provider and support staff from 27 employees to 80, without increasing overall operating losses. Best of all, crisis appointments are now provided within 24 hours, and wait times for initial assessments and mental health therapy has been reduced from 54 days to less than 5 business days.
Catalpa Health is unique in many ways, the most-significant being its governing structure. In 2008, the Kellers committed $625,000 to the massive fundraising effort that brought three separate and competing health systems together – Affinity Health System, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and ThedaCare. Each contributed $100,000 to the new initiative. The renowned Robert Wood Johnson Foundation put its stamp of approval on the project with a $500,000 gift. Since that time, Keller family contributions to the organization have totaled nearly $2 million.
To help build financial support from the community for Catalpa Health, the Kellers became the founding sponsor of the “Race for a Reason,” a unique annual fundraising event patterned after the Grand Prix auto race. Local businesses sponsor mini race cars and recruit their employees to participate in the race. The 2015 event produced the feel of a big-time race as Wisconsin International Raceway served as the host site. Customized race cars were manned by teams sporting colorful uniforms, and hundreds of race fans filled the Raceway stands, all for a great “reason” – the families and children served by Catalpa Health.
Over the past four years, the race has grossed $648,061 in revenue and provided $445,045 in net income to support Catalpa Health’s mission-focused programs and services. In 2015, 19 teams participated and $128,842 was raised. Mission moments, including testimonials from Catalpa Health patients and parents, were intermixed throughout the day to raise more awareness about the program.
Food Pantries Benefit From Annual Campaign
When the J. J. Keller Foundation began partnering with The Post-Crescent newspaper to “Stock the Shelves” of local food pantries in 2009, no one could predicted how the program would grow to provide millions in funding in a much broader region over the years. The community-wide fundraising campaign has extended well beyond the Fox Valley to other Gannett Wisconsin Media markets, and the Foundation has extended its matching dollars to the Green Bay and Oshkosh markets as well as Fox Valley.
The 2015 holiday effort to raise money for the purchase of food for pantries and food programs raised $270,000 in the Fox Valley; $122,000 in Green Bay; $60,000 in Oshkosh; and a grand total of nearly $720,000 throughout the Gannett Wisconsin Media markets. Since the program went statewide 7 years ago, almost $4 million has been raised. In addition to J. J. Keller Foundation, other matching gift sponsors of Stock the Shelves include U.S. Venture and the Fox Cities Chapter of Credit Unions.
Give Camp Gives Fox Cities Housing Coalition a New Website
With more than 350 people homeless each night in the Fox Cities, the Fox Cities Housing Coalition’s (FCHC) mission to assist the homeless and those at risk is a crucial one. That’s why the J. J. Keller Foundation, in partnership with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., chose the coalition for the first-ever Give Camp.
During this weekend technology event, J. J. Keller developers, quality assurance analysts, project managers, web designers, and marketing professionals worked feverishly to completely revamp FCHC’s website at www.fchc.net, giving it improved functionality and an updated look. The new website serves as the go-to-place for housing and related services for low-income and homeless individuals and families. And, it helps the agency better educate the community on homelessness.
Partnering Through Challenge Grants
Over the past eight years, the J. J. Keller Foundation has become known for providing challenge grants to select nonprofits. Challenge grants provide organizations with an opportunity to develop a “double your donation” fundraising campaign. For every dollar raised, up to an agreed-upon amount, the Foundation will donate a dollar to the campaign. More importantly, challenge grants help extend the organization’s reach to new donors, building the donor base and strengthening the nonprofit’s financial sustainability. Nonprofits constantly comment, “Our donors love matching funds,” and the proof is seen in that 100% of the organizations met their challenges in 2015. The result was a win-win-win – for the donors whose gifts were matched, for the nonprofits that benefited from the funds, and for those who receive their services.
Challenge Grants completed in 2015 included:
Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley – Center for Grieving Children – $5,000
CHAPS Academy – $50,000
Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region – Dollars for Diapers – $5,000
Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region – Stock the Shelves – $35,000
Greater Green Bay Community Foundation – Stock the Shelves – $15,000
Harbor House Domestic Abuse Programs – $25,000
Homeless Connections – $25,000
Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities – $25,000
NAMI Fox Valley – $50,000
The Salvation Army – Fox Cities – Red Kettle Campaign – $25,000
The Salvation Army – Oshkosh – Red Kettle Campaign – $10,000
STEP Industries – $10,000
Winnebago County Literacy Council – $5,000