Early childhood strategies, as a key strategy in closing the achievement gap, remain a top funding priority in 2013 with an 30% increase in investments.

United Way announces investments of over $15 million into the Dane County community through targeted research-backed strategies aimed to change the human condition in Dane County.

The Board of Directors at United Way of Dane County approved over $15 million from the most successful ever 2012 campaign to invest in community impact strategies delivered by 117 nonprofits, representing 190 Agenda for Change funded programs.  More than 37,000 Dane County residents and employees from more than 1,000 organizations showed their commitment to uniting the community, creating measurable results, and changing lives by participating in the 2012 United Way campaign.

“We couldn’t have made the progress in our community’s Agenda for Change that we have without everyone’s help and commitment to reaching our goals,” said Nick Meriggioli, 2012 United Way Campaign Chair and President of Oscar Mayer.  “Thank you to everyone who responded to our call, ‘There is Work to be Done’, opened their wallets and hearts, and made this Campaign our most successful ever. Every single dollar makes a difference in our community’s Education, Safety, and Health goals.”

 Here are the highlights:

EDUCATION:  $5,400,052
Early childhood programming is a key strategy of our community’s Agenda for Change goals of preparing children for success in school and closing the racial achievement gap. Investments in this area are improving school readiness and success. Strategies include 28 Play and Learn sites where parents and caregivers learn how to be their child’s first teacher, assessments to ensure a child’s developmental progress, and home visitation. The Parent-Child Home Program will reach 250 families in 2013. In this home visitation program specialists visit with families bi-weekly, teaching parents how to use an educational toy or book (provided by the program) to increase their child’s literacy and communication skills. Key partners in this work are Center for Families and the Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin.

Two initiatives are making real impact in ensuring all students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race. The first, Schools of Hope, led by Centro Hispano, provides one-to-one and one-to-two tutoring to elementary students by trained volunteers in literacy and math in concert with the teacher’s curriculum to more than 5,500 students in 38 elementary schools in Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, and Sun Prairie.

The second, Achievement Connections works to improve student engagement and academic results for middle and high school students, increase emotional and social support for parents, increase early identification and treatment of behavioral mental health issues, and re-engage youth who have dropped out of school.  This includes tutoring, led by the Urban League of Greater Madison, to 8,860 students in 56 middle and high school schools in Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, Oregon and Sun Prairie.

SAFETY:  $3,900,486

Investments to reduce family homelessness include financial counseling, quality case management, access to surplus food and benefits, and permanent housing through our Housing First strategy. Housing First is an innovative strategy that costs half as much as shelter and is more than twice as effective. Research shows families that enter shelter have only a 37% chance of becoming independent.  But, if a family is stabilized in Housing First, they have an 80% chance at remaining independent. United Way’s housing initiatives are stabilizing over 2,000 families in Dane County.  Key partners in ending family homelessness include YWCA, Road Home, Salvation Army, and Porchlight.

This area also focuses on decreasing violence and increasing personal safety. These investments include our Journey Home initiative which is helping former prisoners reintegrate into the community to get on a positive life course. So far, only 62 of 821 participants have returned to prison over five years, for a recidivism rate of just 7.5% (well below the state return-to-prison rate of 32%). Key partner in this work is Madison-area Urban Ministry.

Additional work in the Safety area in 2013 includes the launch the HIRE Education Employment Initiative which will assist individuals ages 17+ who wish to achieve a high school diploma and employment. Key partner in this work is the Literacy Network.

HEALTH:  $2,714,932
Ensuring people’s health issues are identified and treated early remains a top priority in our health work. In 2010, five Dane County school districts conducted research which showed 16% of students experienced trauma that interfered with their ability to learn. Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) provides screening for early intervention and treatment for 6th graders with anger, anxiety, depression and exposure to violence. In 2012 CBITS screened 2,500 students in 17 schools in Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, Oregon and Sun Prairie.

With Dane County’s senior population projected to grow 130% and represent 18% of the total population by 2030, United Way’s Safe and Healthy Aging focuses on strategies for seniors and caregivers to identify and address the risk of adverse drug events and falls so seniors can stay in their homes and remain independent. This work connected 500 seniors with comprehensive medication reviews by pharmacists to assess and reduce their risk of adverse drug events.  An additional 520 received in-home assessments for the risk of falls and adverse drug events through trained volunteers and evidence-based falls prevention classes. Key partners are Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative and Home Health United.

“United Way and our many partners are creating measurable results through the Agenda for Change,” said Craig Samitt, Vision Council Chair who is the volunteer responsible for distribution of these funds in our community. “More than 120 volunteers thoughtfully evaluated each program receiving funds and, thanks to the community’s financial support, we have these generous resources to continue our progress to improve lives and strengthen Dane County.”
United Way President & CEO Leslie Ann Howard applauded all donors, individuals, and volunteers who helped make these investments a reality. “The generosity and out-pouring of support from Dane County is the driving force behind creating lasting change in our community. Through partnership of businesses, organizations, agencies, government, local leaders and individuals we can change the human condition. Thank you.”

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.