2014 Days of Caring
Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County, announce the new HIRE Initiative with 50+ community partners.

On August 14th,  United Way of Dane County kicked off its 2014 Annual Campaign at Madison Mallards Stadium at its annual luncheon sponsored by Oscar Mayer, announcing a commitment to raise $19 million to benefit the Dane County community and launch a new multi-faceted initiative, the HIRE initiative focused on reducing poverty in Dane County.

United Way with its partners will launch HIRE with a total of $1 million dollars to kick-off the 2014 Campaign. With an initial investment of $550,000 from American Family Insurance and additional gifts from the Jack and Sarah Salzwedel family, Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation, UW Health, Diane Ballweg and Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, Dianne Christensen, Alliant Energy, J.H. Findorff & Son Inc., MG&E, and Anna and Andy Burish.

“Dane County is an incredible place to live. I’ve learned over the years, when we ask individuals in our community to get involved, they do. That’s what we’re doing again this year,” said Jack Salzwedel, American Family chairman and chief executive officer, and chair of this year’s Dane County United Way campaign.

“As a father, it’s important to me that all children in our community have the opportunity to develop to their full potential and achieve their dreams. Through our support and involvement with United Way, we can help make those dreams come true.”

In announcing the HIRE Initiative, Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO of United Way of Dane County said they have been engaged in an in-depth discussion about poverty & racial disparities in education, employment and health in Dane County. “Poverty in Dane County has grown 51% from 2000. That means 1 of every 6 children live in our community live in poverty. Also, 49% of African American and 36% of Latino children live in households at or below the poverty level in Dane County. We also know one of the major causes of poverty in our community is unemployment and underemployment.”

She was also joined in announcing the HIRE initiative with United Way Board Member Darrell Bazzell, Chair of United Way’s Vision Council and Vice Chancellor of Finance & Administration for University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dave Beck-Engel, President of J.H. Findorff & Sons Inc.

“The HIRE initiative will prepare individuals who need employment with skills, education, and support to match the hiring needs of local companies,” said Darrell Bazzell. “We’ll do this by creating an Employer Council with business leaders, CEOs, and Human Resource professionals and coaches from public, private, and nonprofit sectors to connect on training, employer, and employee needs.”

Bazzell also emphasized that the HIRE Initiative is expanding supports around participating families in three fundamental areas: early childhood education, housing and employment. HIRE will do just that. Creating a combined approach with supports on every side of the family reinforced with local service partners in the private, nonprofit and public sector United Way estimates in the first three years of this work, 240 individuals will secure or improve their employment and 45 families get a safe and stable home. “Imagine being able to help someone get on the path out of povertyfor about $3,500 per household.” said Bazzell.

This year’s campaign is focused on ending family homelessness and reducing poverty in our community through targeted strategies in the areas of Education, Safety and Health.

Sponsored by Oscar Mayer for the 21st consecutive year, today’s kick-off event marked the beginning of not only the campaign but also Dane County’s largest volunteer event – Days of Caring – which will mobilize over 3,600 volunteers in the few weeks.

Days of Caring volunteers will make progress on all three priority areas of our community’s Agenda for Change goals, with a special emphasis on decreasing family homelessness, which is a key element in leading families and individuals onto pathways out of poverty.

“Our employees are proud to be part of the over 3,600 volunteers who roll up their sleeves over the next several days. Every year, we’re inspired by United Way’s work,” says Sam Rovit, President of Oscar Mayer. “That’s why I encourage everyone in our community to get involved in the campaign this year. Volunteer. Donate. Get involved and change a life.”

At the kick-off luncheon, United Way collected items for families moving into stable housing. These will be distributed through United Way partner agencies who work directly with Housing First families. Items collected include: dish soap, toilet brushes, sponges, toilet bowl cleaner, scrub brushes, and all-purpose cleaner. United Way is still accepting donations for these kits. If you are interested in donating items, contact Jay Young at 246-5497 or jyoung@uwdc.org.

This year’s campaign will feature the 2014 GIVE UNITED Sweepstakes. American Family Insurance, TASC, UW Health, Smart Motors, Schwinn, and Monarch Media Designs have teamed up to help increase campaign participation and financial support of the community’s Agenda for Change by sponsoring this year’s Sweepstakes. Individuals who make a first-time gift of at least $25, or increase their 2014 United Way gift by at least $25, will be automatically entered in a sweepstakes to win one of four prizes: $5,000 Visa gift card, family of four Schwinn bikes, Green Bay Packer experience (which includes four club-level tickets to a home game of your choice, hotel, prime parking, tailgate party, time on the field, and more) or a 1 year paid lease on a Toyota Prius and a $1,000 Visa gift card to cover gas and insurance. The winner will be announced at United Way’s Campaign Celebration on November 20, 2014. Deadline to enter the Sweepstakes is October 17, 2014. For more details on the sweepstakes visit unitedwaydanecounty.org/giveunited

People who are interested in supporting United Way of Dane County can do so in the following ways:

By Contributing to the 2014 United Way Campaign:

Give through your workplace campaign, start a workplace campaign at your organization or business, visit www.unitedwaydanecounty.org, call (608) 246-4350, or send contributions to United Way of Dane County, PO Box 7548, Madison WI, 53707-7548. We invite every member of the Dane County community to participate!

Volunteering during the United Way Days of Caring or throughout the year:

Visit www.unitedwaydanecounty.org and click on “Volunteer Now”, or log onto www.volunteeryourtime.org or call United Way 2-1-1 by dialing 2-1-1 or 246-4357.

Learn More about Community Issues and Research-Backed Solutions:

Advocate for change by participating in a community discussion. Visit unitedwaydanecounty.org to see a list of upcoming events.

About 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.
  • More families are on pathways out of poverty. (NEW)
  • There is a reduction in violence toward individuals and families. (Retiring)


  • 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—six 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.