THU AM News: Altruize excited to increase volunteerism in 2021 and beyond; DBA praises approval of bills regulating imitation dairy, meat labeling

— Volunteer tracker Altruize survived last year during the pandemic through organic growth, but now hopes to increase volunteerism as Wisconsin returns to normal.

Beloit-based Altruize is a for-profit organization that allows volunteer workers to track their lifetime volunteer activity on an app. It acts as a “Fitbit” for volunteer data, according to founder and CEO Nicole Sdao. 

During the latest virtual event in the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s “Entrepreneurons” series, Sdao shared why she started Altruize and how Madison-based startup accelerator gener8tor helped her.

“I’m a recovering volunteer addict, and was seeing a disconnect between volunteers and nonprofits, and the bigger piece of volunteer data,” Sdao said. “Volunteer data has become so important in our society, yet the volunteers don’t have access to their data and can’t keep track of it.”

In 2013 Sdao created the organization that would, after two name changes, become Altruize. Sdao credited gener8tor for her success starting the organization.

Read the full story at 

— The Dairy Business Association is applauding the state Assembly Committee on Agriculture for approving bills to regulate labeling of imitation dairy and meat products.

The committee approved two bills yesterday that seek to ban the labeling of food as milk or as a dairy product or ingredient if the food is not made from the milk of a cow or another hooved mammal. A third bill would essentially do the same for meat products.

“You can find any number of products that are labeled to mimic real milk, cheese and other dairy foods,” said DBA President Amy Penterman. “Customers deserve to know the differences between those products and the real deal. Variety can be a good thing; dishonesty is not.”

Final approval now rests with the full Assembly and full Senate. If approved, a number of other states would have to follow suit for the dairy measures to become law in Wisconsin, under federal interstate commerce rules. Some states have already done so. 

The Assembly approved the bills last year but the Senate was unable to complete its session in March 2020. The process had to start over in the new legislative session. 

Penterman urged both houses of the Legislature to approve the bills.

See the milk bill: 

See the dairy product bill: 

See the meat bill: 

— More than 34 percent of Wisconsinites have at least started their vaccine series, according to the Department of Health Services.

Nearly 2 million people have gotten at least one dose of either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or the two-dose series of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Wisconsin has put nearly 3.2 million shots in people’s arms. 

More than 21 percent of residents are fully vaccinated. Herd immunity would require about 80 percent of residents to be fully protected against the virus.

More than 65 percent of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have been fully vaccinated and more than 77 percent have received their first dose. 

— UW System President Tommy Thompson has asked chancellors to let students skip their weekly campus COVID tests so long as they’ve been vaccinated. 

Thompson in a media briefing yesterday said chancellors appeared responsive to his plan and suggested the move would act as an incentive for people to get vaccinated without mandating shots. 

“It’s a way to reward students without telling them they have to,” he said.

The former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary added he had no plans to mandate vaccinations for students, as COVID vaccines are currently only available under FDA Emergency Use Authorization and not fully permitted. He said some people may be skeptical of getting a vaccine for religious or political purposes and that he wouldn’t want to deny those potential students a chance to get an education.

— UW-Madison has officially launched a search to replace legendary Athletic Director Barry Alvarez, who announced his retirement. 

Alvarez is credited with reviving the school’s athletics program. He spent 30 years at UW-Madison splitting that time between his role as the Badgers head football coach and spending the last 17 years as the director of athletics. 

The university’s search will feature a nine-person panel, led by UW professor and UW Athletic Board Director Peter Miller.

“The search process will prioritize finding a new AD who embraces the university’s commitment to student-athlete well-being and success, on and off the field excellence, and our institution’s values on diversity and inclusion,” said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “Barry’s successor should be able to continue his legacy of success and make our alumni and fans across the state proud.”

See more: 

— Green Bay-based Associated Bank is committing nearly $3.4 billion to its three-year community plan.

The plan aims to help advance the communities it serves with investments, philanthropic outreach and financial services. 

“Associated Bank is committed to playing an active role in helping our communities grow and prosper,” said President and CEO Philip Flynn. “We are proud to continue increasing our efforts and investments for the greater good. It is core to who we are and how we work.”

This investment is an extension of the company’s 2018-2020 plan. The previous investments included more than 9,500 residential mortgages, about $1.8 billion in loans for minority communities and underserved populations, and over $952 million in community development loans that created affordable housing options and development opportunities. 

— Wisconsin reported 727 COVID-19 cases coming into today, down from Tuesday’s nearly two-month high of 886.

But the seven-day average has climbed to 657, the highest it’s been since mid-February.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin reported five deaths yesterday from the virus. The seven-day average for daily COVID-19 deaths is four deaths per day, down from a daily average of five deaths Tuesday. The state’s coronavirus death toll is 6,653. 

Wisconsin recorded 31 deaths since last Wednesday. By comparison, the week leading up to March 31 saw 25 deaths. 

See the Wisconsin COVID-19 Timeline:  

— Over 8,000 Wisconsinites have enrolled in health insurance coverage during the first six weeks of the ACA special enrollment period.

President Biden announced the special enrollment period in February and recently extended it until Aug. 15.

“Thanks to this new enrollment period, thousands more people have been able to access high quality coverage on the federal marketplace — and right now, getting covered is more affordable than ever,” said Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable.

The enactment of the American Rescue Plan has expanded access to health insurance coverage by lowering costs for consumers on the federal marketplace, according to OCI’s release. Both new and existing enrollees can benefit from these changes.

<i> For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

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# Report: Hundreds Of High-Capacity Wells Are Drawing Down Lake Levels In The Central Sands Region

# DHS confirms Wisconsin to lose out on more than $50 million in monthly federal food aid starting in May

# Efforts ramp up to vaccinate people of color against COVID-19 in Wisconsin



– Market prices didn’t sway most WI crop rotation plans 

– Wisconsin Cow Sets New Record for Most Lifetime Milk Produced by a Holstein 


– Jill Underly Defeats Deborah Kerr In State Superintendent Election 


– NRCS Accepting Proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants 


– How Volunteers Are Helping Wisconsin’s Vaccination Efforts 


– Feds Paying $1M To Settle Case Of VA Patient Who Died From Exposure To Frigid Temperatures


– Wauwatosa-based Medical Technology Management Institute names new president 


– Microbrewery focused on sours and spontaneous fermentation 


– DNR Secretary Preston Cole Urges Lawmakers To Fund Efforts To Address PFAS, Buy Public Lands 


– Milwaukee Habitat kicks off initiative to build 80 new homes in Harambee neighborhood 


– Not convinced, analyst urges Kroger shareholders to sell 

– Harbor Freight leasing former Sears Outlet building in Germantown 

– Americans Are Buying New Clothes Again 


– Bring the grills and brats: Milwaukee Brewers will allow tailgating at American Family Field 

– Spring Turkey Season Opener is April 21 


– Milwaukee Repertory Theater to launch slightly delayed, in-person season this fall 


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

– Wisconsin Microfinance: Local nonprofit celebrates 10 years

– Midwestern Bioag: Partners with Grower’s Edge to offer risk-free warranty for growers with the mba challenge

– Prospera Credit Union: Free financial guidance seminar

– Marshfield Clinic Health System: To provide 1,000 vaccines during walk-in clinic at UW-Stevens Point