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2018 U.S. Venture Open raises $4.13 million


Largest one-day event dedicated to ending poverty

2018 U.S. Venture Open raises $4.13 million

(APPLETON, WI) — August 8, 2018— More than 1,100 attendees raised $4.13 million in the U. S. Venture Open, the nation’s single largest one-day charitable event dedicated to ending poverty. Michael Phelps spent the day golfing at the event and treating dinner guests to a live interview.

Phelps 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. “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.”

This is the 33rd annual U.S. Venture Open and in three decades the event 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,” said U.S. Venture CEO and President John Schmidt. “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.”

“A handshake between two generations of Kellers and Schmidts brought to life the Basic Needs Giving Partnership and will continue for years to come,” said Heidi Dusek, executive director of the J. J. Keller Foundation, Inc. “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.”

This will also be the first year 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.

“The community has joined together to do something no one person or organization could ever do,” said Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture. “It shows the sustainability of our decades-long effort to fight the root causes of poverty.”

It 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 grantmaking budget of the Fund annually donates up to $800,000.

Thrivent has also joined Oshkosh Corporation and ThedaCare as a lead partner at the $200,000 level this year. The collaborative grantmaking, aligned funding strategy and focus on workforce and economic development for the region, resonated with Thrivent’s commitment to ending persistent economic disparities and generational poverty.

The strategies of this charitable effort are:

Prevent people in episodic crisis from developing a chronic need.

Support long-term solutions to move people out of poverty.

Assist those with limited capacity to maintain a stable and dignified quality of life.

Broaden impact and increase effectiveness via collaboration.

The POINT regional poverty initiative equips nonprofits with continuous improvement tools and initiates the formation of action groups around strategies focused on ending poverty.




U.S. Venture Open

The U.S. Venture Open is the nation’s single largest one-day charitable event dedicated to ending poverty. It’s held at several regional golf courses: Oneida Golf and Country Club, Green Bay; North Shore Golf Club, Menasha; Thornberry Creek, Oneida, Oneida; Fox Valley Golf Club, Kaukauna;
Butte des Morts Country Club, Appleton; Wander Springs Golf Course, Greenleaf. Michael Phelps is scheduled to appear and speak at the dinner reception for all registered guests, held at Van Abel’s of Hollandtown.

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 non-profit organizations in Northeast Wisconsin.

The event started in 1986 with 100 golfers and has grown to 1,100 attendees representing more than 500 partners who golf at regional courses to raise money for programs that help end poverty. Follow the event on FacebookTwitter, or visit the U.S. Venture Open website.


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About U.S. Venture, Inc. 

For more than 65 years, U.S. Venture, Inc. has been recognized as an innovative leader in the distribution of petroleum and renewable energy products, lubricants, and tires and parts for the automotive aftermarket. Guided by its company vision, “To be the very best value-adding distributor of products that vehicles consume in North America,” they deliver unconventional, creative solutions that give their customers a competitive edge. Headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin, the company’s business divisions are U.S. Oil, U.S. AutoForce®, U.S. Lubricants and U.S. Gain.

About Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history, capturing a total of 28 medals including a record-setting 23 gold medals, over the course of five Olympic Games. Phelps utilized his performance bonus for winning eight gold medals at 2008 Beijing Games to establish the Michael Phelps Foundation. Committed to growing the sport of swimming, the Foundation addresses the need for water-safety through its signature program – im – that is available through the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Special Olympics International. The most decorated swimmer in World Championships history, Phelps launched his own competitive swimwear brand – MP – in partnership with Aqua Sphere in 2014. He has published two autobiographies – No Limits: The Will to Success and Beneath the Surface – that were New York Times and USA Today best sellers, as well as published one children’s book – How to Train with a T-Rex and Win Eight Gold Medals. He is a highly regarded inspirational speaker, sharing his message of “Dream, Plan, Reach” with audiences ranging from children to business executives.


Contact Information: Dawn Ruchala

Manager, U.S. Venture Open

[email protected]



Mary Schmidt

[email protected]