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Basic Needs grants top old record by $1 million

Teaching preschoolers kindness and developing a school-based mental health program in Neenah elementary schools are two of the more innovative approaches to addressing the root causes of poverty included among five grants totaling more than $1.2 million awarded this month by the Basic Needs Giving Partnership.

The basic needs grants awarded this fiscal year total $2,866,689, just over $1 million more than the previous record of $1,840,033 awarded the year before.

The Basic Needs Giving Partnership is supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region with the proceeds of the annual U.S. Venture Open golf outing, and additional funding from the J. J. Keller Foundation and other community partners. The golf outing raised $3.6 million in 2016. This year’s event is scheduled for Aug. 9.

The “Kindness Curriculum” project will receive $296,450 over three years. The curriculum will be implemented with students ages 3 to 5 at the Community Early Learning Center in downtown Appleton, through a collaboration also involving Lawrence University, the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley, and Healthy Minds Innovations at UW-Madison. The curriculum was developed by early learning expert Richie Davidson, president of Healthy Minds Innovations.

Beth Haines, associate professor of psychology at Lawrence, said the curriculum will teach young children to focus their attention and to respond to others carefully and thoughtfully. Teachers and parents also will receive training. She explained that research has shown that children living in poverty are more likely to have difficulties with self-regulation in response to social or emotional challenges, which puts them at a disadvantage in the classroom and contributes to the achievement gap.

“We’re so excited,” Haines said of news of the funding.

Meanwhile, students in grades K-5 in the Neenah Joint School District will have access to mental health services at school, thanks to a $300,000 grant over three years. Collaborators with the school district include Catalpa Health, NAMI Fox Valley and Samaritan Counseling.

A similar in-school approach at Hortonville schools – in response to a rash of student suicides – received a three-year, $201,000 Basic Needs Giving Partnership grant in 2016.

Other grants were awarded to:

  • STEP Industries: A third sober living house that supports long-term addiction recovery. Collaborators are The Mooring Programs and Nova Counseling Services ($115,000 over three years).
  • Riverview Gardens: Using the ServiceWorks program to address unemployment and underemployment as a root cause of homelessness and poverty in high school youth. Collaborators are Appleton Area School District and Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley ($294,036 over three years).
  • Shawano United Methodist Church: Staffing, education, promotional efforts and a mobile market system that will make fresh foods more available to low-income families in Shawano County, especially those who live a long distance from a major food outlet. Collaborators are Shawano County UW-Extension, Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Shawano County, Menominee Nation and Shawano/Menominee Counties Health Department ($263,283 over three years).

The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, a Fox Cities-based nonprofit founded in 1986, helps people provide long-term support for favorite charities through endowments and other charitable funds. The second-largest certified community foundation in Wisconsin, its donors have allowed it to award more than $240 million to nonprofit organizations from more than 1,400 charitable funds. Affiliated community foundations operate in Brillion, Chilton, Clintonville, Shawano and Waupaca.

About Basic Needs Giving Partnership

The Basic Needs Giving Partnership funds innovative solutions to address the root causes of poverty in northeast Wisconsin and is funded by the U.S. Venture Open and J. J. Keller Foundation. The U.S. Venture Open is one of the nation’s single largest one-day charitable events with 1,100 participants representing more than 500 partners. More than $33 million has been raised since its inception in 1986. U.S. Venture pays all event expenses, ensuring 100% of contributions go directly to the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs. The Basic Needs Giving Partnership collaborators include the: U.S. Venture, J. J. Keller Foundation, Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, and Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Find out how to get involved on Facebook, Twitter, or the U.S. Venture Open website.

To learn more, go to, get in The Loop at or connect with us on Facebook @usventureopen, @USVenture, @J. J. Keller Foundation, Inc. and @CFFVR and Twitter @usventureopen, @usventureinc and @CFFoxValley.

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