USET Foundation Exceeds Campaign Goal

USET Foundation Exceeds Campaign Goal To Support Developing Athlete and High Performance Programs in Challenging Quadrennial

The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation announced that its “Raising the Bar” Campaign raised $42.3 million, exceeding the $40 million goal by $2.3 million as of December 30, 2021. The Campaign, which began raising money privately in 2017 before a public launch in January 2020, was designed to support a robust pathway for developing, emerging, and elite athletes that will one day represent the United States in international competition. The money generated by the “Raising the Bar” Campaign helped fund programs leading up to the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, and will continue to help fund programs in the year ahead.

“As the philanthropic partner to US Equestrian (USEF), it is the mission of the USET Foundation to ensure that our equestrian athletes have the resources needed to be competitive on the greatest international stages,” said W. James McNerney, Jr., Chairman, President, and CEO, of the USET Foundation. “In addition to providing support for our elite athletes, it’s also necessary to have programs that foster growth and development of emerging human and horse athletes in order to maintain competitive excellence and ensure our rightful place atop the podium for years to come.”

The Future of Equestrian Sport

Funding for high performance is used to create the pathway programs that help identify up-and-coming equestrian athletes in the international disciplines, provides training opportunities, and supports them through their development into world-class competitors.

Pathway development programs across disciplines realized significant growth since the initial investment from the USET Foundation’s “Raising the Bar” Campaign. For example, USEF’s High Performance Dressage Development Program, in particular, witnessed a large increase in the number and quality of horse and rider combinations with the talent to represent the nation on the world’s largest stages, the number of athletes interested in the program, and the number of touchpoints the program offers to athletes as they progress through the pipeline. Grants to US Equestrian from the USET Foundation helped facilitate all of these advancements.

Reaching the Podium in Tokyo

Funds from the Campaign also help offset the additional budget required for our teams to compete at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which ultimately became the most expensive Games in equestrian sport’s history due to changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the pre-export quarantine (PEQ)—which is required of all athletes, horses, coaches, and support teams—was changed from Gladstone, New Jersey, to Aachen, Germany, there was a need for a significantly greater amount of funding than was initially budgeted.

Funds were also leveraged to support teams of athletes that did not compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Nations Cup competitions at CHIO Aachen, for example, gave international team experience to many dressage, eventing, and jumping athletes that had just begun to represent the U.S. on the international stage. The historic outings—with jumping taking home team gold, eventing earning team silver and Will Coleman taking first individually, and dressage landing a respectful fourth place—also demonstrated the efficacy of the development programs with many riders on those teams having gone through the high performance pathway.

In jumping, Campaign funds supported development programs that helped junior and young riders gain invaluable international team experience early in their careers. In particular, the U.S. Junior Jumping Team secured the gold medal at the 2022 FEI Jumping Nations Cup CSIOJ competition in Kronenberg, the Netherlands, while rising star Mimi Gochman, who competed on the sixth-placed U.S. Young Rider Jumping Team, won the Ashford Farm Grand Prix CSIOY at the competition.

The Campaign In Action

“As a sport, we have an ambitious agenda that requires hard work and significant funding,” continued McNerney. “Thanks to our generous donors, the success of the ‘Raising the Bar’ Campaign has helped us not only close the gap in funds needed for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also helped create a solid foundation that our athletes can build upon as we look to World Championships this year as well as the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, France, and the return of a home Games in Los Angeles in 2028.”

Going into 2022, the USET Foundation will give a $3 million grant to US Equestrian for high performance programs and ancillary sport programs, such as safety in eventing and the development of licensed officials. In 2021, the USET Foundation directed $4 million to USEF, the largest grant ever given. Of the $42.3 million raised in the “Raising the Bar” Campaign, 71% goes to high performance programs, 23% to the USET Foundation Endowment, and 6% as planned gifts.

USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Jenkins stated, “The goals of cultivating greatness in high performance pathway programs and investing in the future through the USET Foundation Endowment were reached through the support of founding contributors as well as another 12,460 donors to the Campaign. While the global pandemic could have been a barrier to achieving these goals, the incredible fortitude and generosity of those who support the U.S. equestrian teams triumphed.” 

A special thanks is also extended to the “Raising the Bar” Campaign’s Honorary Chairs, W. James McNerney, Jacqueline Mars, and Abigail Wexner, as well as the Campaign’s Steering Committee including co-chairs Beth Johnson and Bill Weeks, and members Alex Boone, Gloria Callen, Lisa Deslauriers, Elizabeth Fath, Elizabeth “Betsy” Juliano, Misdee Wrigley Miller, Philip Richter, and Diane Thomas.

As the U.S. equestrian teams continue in the quadrennial leading up to the sport’s greatest international competitions including the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games on home soil, the USET Foundation remains dedicated and focused on providing support to our teams, achieving the goals of podium finishes, and providing a path to the top for aspiring athletes.