For Release: 08/30/2019

Salute to safety and service: WPS Foundation donates $50,000 to first responders

Green Bay — After surprising select first responders all week, the Wisconsin Public Service (WPS) Foundation officially awarded a total of $50,000 Friday to 27 agencies throughout northeast and north central Wisconsin. The awards are part of the foundation's 2019 Rewarding Responders Grants.

"These grants are a small way we are thanking the amazing police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders for keeping us safe every day," said Beth Straka, vice president of the WPS Foundation. “We work hard to make sure our customers and employees are safe, and we know these grants will help first responders enhance the safety of our communities for years to come."

The announcement marks the end of the WPS Foundation's Rewarding Responders Week, a series of surprise visits to unveil some of this year's grant recipients. Some of the vital safety items purchased as part of this year's Rewarding Responders Grants include:

  • Heavy-duty rescue saws
  • Thermal imaging camera
  • Handheld rescue and safety tools
  • Firefighting helmets
  • Natural gas monitors

Grant's impact over time

The WPS Foundation established this grant in 2014 to support emergency responders. Since its inception, more than $300,000 has been awarded to help approximately 170 agencies improve public safety in their communities.

"Every department could use a grant like this," said Dan Van Lanen, lieutenant – Hobart/Lawrence Police Department, whose officers received a thermal imaging device through the grant. "Every department has needs. Every department has different things that they want, and for the WPS Foundation to offer this grant, it's very helpful."

To be eligible for a Rewarding Responders Grant, emergency response agencies must operate in the WPS service area and demonstrate the equipment or training they will acquire is part of a well-planned effort to improve public safety. Grants also may be used to fund safety-related projects that are unique, one-time efforts.

See a complete list of this year's grant recipients. More information about the Rewarding Responders Grant is available at

About Wisconsin Public Service Foundation

Wisconsin Public Service Foundation is funded by the shareholders of WEC Energy Group, not by the customers of its utility subsidiaries, and is in its 55th year. Since its inception, the foundation has provided more than $34 million in contributions to programs that support work in the areas of arts and culture, community and neighborhood development, education, human services and health, and care for the environment. Learn more at

WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC), based in Milwaukee, is one of the nation's premier energy companies, serving more than 4.4 million customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota. Visit

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