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Poverty’s roots reach unexpected places

As the big tent comes down after U.S. Venture’s 32nd annual golf outing and dinner, we marvel at the power of the event to raise money to fight the root causes of poverty and consider the complex ways those roots are entwined throughout society.

Wednesday’s U.S. Venture Open raised an incredible $3.96 million and attracted 1,100 people (including more than 860 golfers) who care about fighting poverty, and maybe also wanted to catch a glimpse of NBA star Dwyane Wade.

Coincidentally, an updated Fox Cities LIFE Study this week provided more detailed statistics on poverty as it related to race and ethnicity. For the golfers, the greater concern than lowering their scores is lowering those poverty statistics.

With the record almost $4 million added this year, the golf event has now raised $36 million, all of it going to fight the causes of poverty, because the company pays all of the costs of the event. The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region – along with its counterparts in Green Bay and Oshkosh – is fortunate to help distribute this money in the form of grants to nonprofits. Last fiscal year, we awarded $2.9 million in grants in the Fox Valley through the Basic Needs Giving Partnership. which includes the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J.J. Keller Foundation and other partners.

There was a void left by the death last February of Bill Schmidt, former CEO who conceived of and built up the golf outing. He is gone but a mounting legacy remains of his efforts to improve the community by helping the less fortunate.

How do you fight the root causes of poverty? The ways are many, and unexpected.

Here are some issues the Basic Needs Giving Partnership has addressed that, perhaps unexpectedly, are roots causes of poverty.

Addiction – Former addicts whose brains have been altered by heroin and other opiates need special training to get them back in the workforce. Job coaches at STEP Industries are doing that.

Eye care – Vision problems can cause young people problems in school and, ultimately, in the workforce. Prevent Blindness Wisconsin cuts that root cause with early detection.

Transportation – Women escaping an abusive situation may be a car repair away from homelessness. Jump Start, a repair shop at Fox Valley Technical College, offers the abuse victims free or cheap repairs, often done by other women learning a non-traditional craft.

Mental health – Mental health problems can grow from the stress and dysfunction that come with poverty. Catalpa Health is working with in-school programs to identify and address students’ mental health issues.

See more of what the Basic Needs Giving Partnership is doing to fight the root causes of poverty.


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