Prestigious award recognizes the work of the Siemer Institute for Family Stability—80 local children stably housed as a result of this work

Philanthropists Barbara and Al Siemer were presented with the 2012 National Tocqueville Society Award by United Way Worldwide. This award is the highest honor the Tocqueville Society bestows and it recognizes unparalleled leadership in philanthropy. Previous honorees include Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Leslie Wexner, Bob Hope and the Gates family. Tocqueville Society members are United Way’s most generous donors with annual gifts of $10,000 and above.

“We are so grateful that Al and Barb Siemer, working through their innovative Siemer Institute for Family Stability, are keeping more than 80 children facing homelessness both stably housed and stable in their schools in Madison, Wisconsin, and nearby small towns, “says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO, United Way of Dane County.  “This type of gift is shaping the stability of families for generations. On behalf of these families, we cannot thank them enough for what they have done.”

The Siemers, from Central Ohio, are being recognized for their pioneering and effective work from helping families in financial crisis stay in their homes and keep their children from moving schools. They have been involved in this work since 2003, and in 2011 launched the Siemer Institute for Family Stability which funds family stability programs at select United Way organizations across the country.

“We know that children who are homeless are nine times more likely to repeat a grade and four times as likely to drop out of school as children who are stably housed.  We also know that in Madison, chronic absenteeism is a serious problem for families facing homelessness,” says Doug Strub, President of Meridian Group and United Way of Dane County Board Member. “The Siemer’s focus on providing case management and housing assistance for these children and their families will get these students on a track for academic achievement and life-long success.”

The Institute is one of the leading examples in the nation of collective impact which creates broad social change by uniting people and organizations to work toward common goals, while learning from each other through open and active communications. United Ways have been the best suited partners in these efforts. One of the keys to the success of the Institute is the fact that each community can tailor their programs to meet local needs and select partners that are most capable of delivering results. Since the launch of the Institute in June, 2011, more than 7,000 families with more than 16,000 children have been helped in 22 cities, including Madison.

The Siemers received the 2012 United Way National Tocqueville Society Award at the Tocqueville Leaders Gathering in Washington, DC on April 12, 2013. Strub represented the Dane County community at the awards dinner.

About the Siemer Institute for Family Stability

The goal of The Siemer Institute for Family Stability is to support families so their children can remain in the same school, giving them the best chance of academic success. The program targets neighborhoods and schools with high student mobility rates. It creates long-lasting change by addressing and resolving the issues that push families to the brink of homelessness.

The program’s success is based on intervention, prevention and education. Full-time social workers work intensively with families for three to six months, with an additional period of follow-up support to give stability. The intensity, frequency and duration of assistance are based on the specific needs of each family. Families receive individual attention and guidance from a case manager who provides:

  • Family counseling and advocacy for the family
  • Assistance in negotiations with landlords and other entities to help families remain in their homes
  • Help in locating resources for health care, after-school programs and programs for children with special needs
  • Job training and household budgeting assistance, and connection to resources and supports to prevent future crises
  • Short-term financial support for rent, transportation, job training and utility bills

Data has shown that the program has been highly successful in preventing homelessness in participating communities. Families have reported:

  • Increased housing stability
  • Increased life-skills capabilities such as household budgeting
  • Increased school stability for children
  • Greater capacity to avoid another housing crisis

The creation of The Siemer Institute for Family Stability in 2011 at United Way of Central Ohio was the first step toward moving the community impact achieved by successful local initiatives funded by the Siemer Family Foundation in Ohio and Florida to collective impact on a national level. The Institute represents the first time any local United Way organization has led an initiative on a national level. The Institute is establishing a platform for preventing homelessness in communities across the nation. Through the leadership of United Way of Central Ohio, the Institute is:

  •  Bringing together key leaders, both local and national, to guide program policy and practice.
  • Creating an expansion plan that will launch new program sites in targeted cities across the country.
  • Providing ongoing management through the leadership of a National Director.
  • Aligning and coordinating the activities of existing program sites through data collection and evaluation.

United Way of Dane County’s 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.

About 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.