On what President/CEO Mark Murphy called one of his favorite days of the year, the Green Bay Packers Foundation on Tuesday awarded $450,000 to 145 civic and charitable groups throughout Wisconsin in its annual distribution of grants. The total donation amount and the number of recipient organizations are records for the Foundation.
Charlie Lieb, chairman of the Foundation committee, distributed the grants at a luncheon for the recipients at Lambeau Field. The Foundation has awarded more than $3 million for charitable purposes since it was established in 1986.
"If you look at the 90 years of our team's history, we wouldn't be where we are now if it wasn't for our community," Murphy said. "Our view is we have to give back. We've been fortunate and it has allowed us to do more. For us, it's important to support the organizations that support our community. We're excited about the overall charitable impact."
The grants and other programs highlighted today by the Foundation are two components of the Packers' annual efforts in the community. The club's community outreach department responded to requests from individuals and organizations for fund-raising endeavors of more than $3 million in 2012, and non-profit groups raised more than $750,000 by operating Lambeau Field concession stands.
Combined with direct cash donations by the club to various charitable efforts, the comprehensive Packers charity impact resulted in excess of $6 million over the past year.
Today's grants aided civic and charitable groups of all ages and backgrounds throughout the state. The Disabled American Veterans of Wisconsin, Chapter 3, in the Green Bay area, has received funding for uniforms, the membership's building, transportation and an honor guard.
"It would be a lot harder for us to do those things without the Packers," said Robert Krausert, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, who attended the event with Marine Corps veteran Ron Hoffman. "We have the honor guard for funerals. It shows the team doesn't just sell tickets, they give money back. It's a nice way for the Packers to stay involved in the community."
At St. Francis Xavier School in Cross Plains, Wis., the grants in past years went to help build a youth football stadium, and this year will go to adding bleachers on the hillside. Located a little over 2½ hours from Green Bay, the elementary school's field is home to seven local teams of students from fourth to eighth grade.
"We appreciate what the Packers have done greatly," said Tom Murphy, the Director of Youth Programs at St. Francis Xavier. "The field brings our entire community together."
A 2012 grant to the Brown County Library in Green Bay funded 9,300 children in the summer reading program.
Of the Foundation's contributions, 48 grants – aggregating to $166,500 – were awarded to Brown County organizations, where Green Bay is located. Additional grants totaling $283,500 were made to 97 other groups around the state. This year, 252 charities in Wisconsin applied for grants.
"It's a tough process and a lot of thought goes into it," Lieb said. "We know these charities touch a lot of lives and help a lot of needy people."
In addition to Lieb, the Green Bay Packers Foundation Trustees include Tom Arndt, Rick Chernick, Terry Fulwiler, Johnnie Gray, George Hartmann, Mark McMullen, Tom Olson, Diane Roundy and Mark Skogen. Bobbi Jo Eisenreich is the secretary of the Foundation.
Additionally, under the Packers Scholarship Program that was established in 2002, $15,000 was awarded – $7,500 to Scholarships Inc., for distribution to students in four-year colleges, and $7,500 to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) for distribution to students in two-year associate degree or apprenticeship trades programs.
A portion of the scholarship funds come from NFL Properties which, at the Packers' request, returns to the Foundation royalty fees paid for using the Packers logo on Wisconsin automobile license plates. Because the royalties do not fully cover the scholarships, the Packers fund the remainder of the amount, a figure which totals $78,000 since '06.
In the past year, the Packers Foundation also has distributed an additional $60,375 on behalf of NFL Charities.