United Way and Madison Metropolitan School District recommit their long-term partnership on closing the achievement gap to include professional development for teaching and support staff.

In alignment with the on-going partnership between United Way of Dane County and Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), their Boards met today to discuss the racial achievement gap, how they can deepen their community partnerships, the School District’s Building our Future Achievement Gap plan, and recommitted to a set of comprehensive strategies focused on closing the racial achievement gap. In addition, United Way announced an investment of an additional $27,000 for professional development to provide additional resources to teachers in the area of curriculum usage, engagement, and literacy techniques. This professional development will help to reduce the racial achievement gap in fourth grade reading.

MMSD and United Way agreed to continue their collaboration on several strategies. These include: keeping students engaged through academic support, early identification and treatment of behavioral health issues, providing parent support with parent engagement sessions, early education for children age 0-5 years, and mobilizing skilled tutors to work one-on-one in concert with the classroom teacher through United Way’s Schools of Hope program.

“United Way couldn’t be prouder to continue to work with Madison Metropolitan School District on this effort. Ensuring all students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race is one of our core goals in our community’s Agenda for Change,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County.  “MMSD has been such an incredible partner. It was inspiring to come together around accountability, prioritizing resources and building trust.”

Over the past thirteen years, United Way has invested over $8.2 million on specific research-back strategies to close the achievement gap and has deployed over 14,000 skilled volunteer tutors as part of the Schools of Hope program. As one of our key strategies, Schools of Hope uses an effective, one-on-one or one-on-two tutoring model that provides trained tutors to work in concert with the teacher’s curriculum helping students get the additional academic attention they may need.

The personal attention given to students by the Schools of Hope tutors allows for improved academic success, supporting our community’s Agenda for Change goal of helping all students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race/ethnicity, specifically in the crucial areas of 4th grade reading and 10th grade algebra.

“United Way is a critical partner in our work of closing the achievement gap,” says Dan Nerad, Superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District. “United Way has the ability to mobilize people and partners across sectors and disciplines to make change happen. They are the natural fit for this partnership.”

Our Community’s Agenda for Change


  • Students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race.
  • Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.


  • There is a decrease in family homelessness.
  • There is a reduction in violence toward individuals and families.


  • People’s health issues are identified and treated early.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.

 United Way engages our community mobilizes volunteers and strengthens local nonprofits to achieve measurable results and change lives.

United Way of Dane County

United Way of Dane County is addressing the underlying causes of community issues through our community’s Agenda for Change—seven goals focused on three priority areas of Education, Safety and Health that our community identified as most critical to changing lives and strengthening Dane County. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, we are achieving measurable results toward making our community better educated, safer, and healthier. United Way provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate, and volunteer to change the human condition in Dane County.