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U. S. Venture allocates $1.7 million to non-profits


Grant restrictions lifted to respond to pandemic needs

(APPLETON, WIS.) April 29, 2020—U.S. Venture and its charitable foundation have increased funds available to regional non-profits, a move that has allowed the organizations to address challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation is funded by contributions from the corporation. In 2019 the foundation’s giving budget was $1.3 million, which was increased to $1.7 million for 2020.

“The budget increase occurred prior to the pandemic hitting the nation, but it has allowed us to pivot quickly and address immediate needs from non-profits,” said Greg Vandenberg, director of giving and community engagement for U.S. Venture. “Our board of directors is responding to this unprecedented need by releasing funds above and beyond grants we have already made.”

Funds will be used to directly impact individuals served by the non-profits experiencing increased demand for services from those most vulnerable in our communities. As part of the donation, the company and foundation are making in-kind technology donations to non-profits where support staff is working from home in order to meet the needs of an increased client base.

“There are thousands of people in our communities who teeter on the edge of poverty, and this crisis is pushing them over the edge,” Vandenberg said. “As a result, we have already made funds available to many of these organizations.” Vandenberg says the grant requirements for initial requests have been lifted and the organizations may use the funds where they see the most need.

Highlighted grants from the The U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation are as follows:

  • The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region & United Way Fox Cities community response fund $50,000
  • The Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Emergency Response Fund $25,000
  • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin $50,000
  • Team Rubicon National Emergency Response, $25,000. Team Rubicon is an organization that mobilizes veterans to provide disaster relief.
  • We All Rise: African American Resource Center supports the African American community in Green Bay. This grant supports clients with food, hotel vouchers, rental assistance and other basic necessities.
  • United Way Fox Cities to help support the Get Help Give Help community hub to provide a convenient, easy-to-use, “one-stop-shop” for those who need help and those who want to give help in the Fox Cities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services to help provide personal protective equipment across shelters and nursing homes in Northeast Wisconsin.
  • Father Carr’s Place 2B in Oshkosh provides a safe home with three meals a day for men, women and children who seek temporary housing. The grant will assist in serving and taking care of as many people as possible in shelters, the medical center and through the food pantry.

In-kind donations are concentrated on technology and computers for non-profits who have been challenged to provide for staff members working from home.

“Under the state’s shelter in place order, many of these organizations are challenged to provide services to more people from a remote workforce,” Vandenberg said. “If we are to serve our neighbors in a time of crisis, we need to give the people on the front line the tools to be efficient and access their clients to continue providing crucial services.”

  • House of Hope in Green Bay provides a safe and supportive place for young parents and children experiencing homelessness. An in-kind donation of laptops was made to support staff working from home.
  • Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin is a human services agency that protects, heals and cares for children, families and individuals living in Northeast Wisconsin. An in-kind donation of laptops was made to support staff working from home.
  • Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services is an agency serving individuals and families in Winnebago and Green Lake Counties who have been affected by domestic abuse. An in-kind donation of laptops was made to advocates to continue to offer virtual support to outside clients.
  • Wello is a Greater Green Bay well-being network that connects organizations and resources to solve complex problems affecting quality of life. An in-kind donation of laptops, webcams and software was made to support staff working from home.

U.S. Lubricants, a division of U.S. Venture, has donated supplies of a new cleaning solution to several non-profits. The cleaning solution was specifically formulated to answer strong demand during the pandemic (see below). U.S. Lubricants provides Intelligent Lubrication Solutions®: a comprehensive range of products and support services relating to industrial lubrication. Beneficiaries are:

  • Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin is the leading hunger relief organization in the state
    with food banks located in Milwaukee and Appleton. An in-kind donation was made of cleaning solution for both locations.
  • Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. supports children and the people who care for them in Northeast Wisconsin. An in-kind donation was made of cleaning solution to 12 childcare centers.
  • Childcare Resource & Referral provides education, support, information referrals, and evidence-based home visitation programs and early childhood consultation throughout Northeast Wisconsin. An in-kind donation was made of cleaning solution to 12 childcare centers.

For more information on the U.S. Venture/Schmidt Family Foundation, please visit this link.

How an entrepreneurial culture created a solution in a pandemic

When the effects of the pandemic were growing, one employee of U. S. Lubricants, a division of U.S. Venture, wanted to do something to contribute to finding solutions. By day, Joe Leistikow is a chemist and formulator for U.S. Lubricants, which means he mixes and creates new products. But after hours, he couldn’t stop thinking about mixing a product that would neutralize the virus.

“A lot of other people had the same idea, so the supply chain for raw materials quickly collapsed,” Leistikow said.

He reviewed common products that people would recognize, like bleach and hydrogen peroxide and the idea of creating a cleaning solution hit him. These were ingredients that were readily available through the company’s supply chain and were already approved by government agencies for use as cleaners.

Working out of U.S. Venture’s Rockford, Illinois plant, Leistikow quickly mixed, and tested until he got the right cleaning solution product now known as Protec CDF 289-RTU.

“I love to troubleshoot,” Leistikow said. “We were able to work through it and just like all innovation, you get something right after 100 errors.” From start to finish, the process of creating the cleaning solution took less than a week.

“We encourage an entrepreneurial mindset throughout our organization,” Vandenberg said. “This is just one example of how innovation moves our business forward and solves problems for our customers.”

The division was immediately tapped to donate the cleaning solution to the non-profits. It is yet un-named, but plans are in the works to integrate Leistikow’s creation into the company’s product line.

“I wasn’t surprised when I heard the solution was being donated,” Leistikow said. “That’s just the kind of company we are.”