United Way Board of Directors announces investments of over $19.7 million into our Dane County community to change the human condition.

The United Way of Dane County Board of Directors approved over $19.7 million from the 2014 campaign to invest in strategies focusing on solutions to community-identified areas of greatest need. More than 35,000 Dane County residents and 1,000 organizations and their employees partnered to unite our community and change lives by supporting the 2014 United Way campaign and community solutions.

Hundreds of community volunteers who lead United Way’s investment process worked to understand community needs and new ideas through listening sessions; conversations with non-profits, government agencies, higher education researchers and other key partners; and conducting strategic evaluation of best practices and research-based strategies that most effectively change lives. These community members make sure the community’s voice is central to making investment decisions.
“Through the important work of understanding Dane County needs and community-member hopes and aspirations, and the deep work of understanding what works to create measurable change, we are poised to make significant improvements in the areas of education, income and health,” Darrell Bazzell, Vision Council Chair, United Way Board member and UW-Madison Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration said. “And, thanks to the infusion of expanded resources by American Family Insurance and other donors this year, we are now able to leverage and combine our employment, housing and early childhood work to get more people on pathways out of poverty.”

“As our community grapples with on-going issues of poverty and equity, United Way’s Board and Vision Council have been strategically aligning donors’ investments to the areas of greatest need and greatest results,” Nick Meriggioli, United Way Board Chair said. “We’re doing what works, and there is an opportunity to continue to do even more as we work together, united in support for the community’s Agenda for Change.”

2015 Agenda For Change Investment

“I am grateful to Jack Salzwedel, American Family Chairman and CEO, along with his volunteer Campaign Cabinet for leading this year’s record-breaking campaign,” Leslie Ann Howard, United Way President and CEO said. “The community charges United Way to tackle the most difficult issues in Dane County and steps up to help with thought leadership, donations and volunteerism. We are honored to respond to that charge with this year’s investments and our on-going stewardship of the community’s trust that we’ll deliver results.”

Investment Highlights:

EDUCATION: $6,817,007

Early childhood education is a key strategy for preparing children for success in school and for closing the racial achievement gap. Investments in this area are providing education and support for parents and caregivers of children from birth to age five, and quality early childhood experiences for young children that increase school readiness and success. Signature initiatives include home visiting programs such as the Parent-Child Home Program, community-based early childhood programs such as Play and Learn, and developmental screenings through the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ). 2015 investments include a new program to distribute baby books, tips on age-appropriate development, and a list of resources to all parents of newborns in Dane County. Investments will also support the expansion of the Parent-Child Home Program to two additional communities (Sun Prairie and Verona). Key partners include Center for Families, Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C), Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin, and St. Mary’s and Meriter hospitals.

Ensuring all students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race continues to be a critical community priority. United Way supports strategies in elementary schools to provide literacy tutoring, efforts to increase student attendance, and initiatives to prevent summer learning loss. Our strategies in the middle school years include math and literacy tutoring, as well as behavioral health screening and support. At the high school level, math tutoring and behavioral health support are priorities to support increased graduation rates and life success. Tutoring efforts reached over 4,300 students in four districts last year: Madison, Middleton/Cross Plains, Oregon and Sun Prairie. Key Partners include Centro Hispano, Urban League of Greater Madison, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Simpson Street Free Press, Madison Metropolitan School District, Middleton/Cross Plains School District, and local community centers.

INCOME: $6,379,749

Increasing the number of Dane County residents who are on pathways out of poverty is a new priority focus of our Agenda for Change. We are expanding our work to help men and women over 18 complete their high school diploma and gain skill sets to help them find and maintain employment. We are working with employers to identify job opportunities with family-supporting wages, and supporting underemployed and unemployed women and men, especially young parents, to gain the skills they need to qualify for them. Key partners include Literacy Network, Urban League of Greater Madison, Centro Hispano, Omega School, Vera Court Neighborhood Center, YWCA, and Madison College.

Investments in this area also work to reduce family homelessness by providing Rapid Rehousing/Housing First, permanent housing, quality case management, support in bridging landlord-tenant relations, financial literacy training, and access to food. Key partners in ending family homelessness include YWCA, The Road Home, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), Salvation Army, Porchlight, Community Action Coalition, and Financial Education Center.

In addition, United Way remains committed to decreasing juvenile and adult violence and increasing personal safety and economic stability. This includes the Journey Home program that helps former prisoners reintegrate into the community and start a positive life course, as well as work with youth who are committing ordinance violations to prevent them from developing a pattern of delinquent behavior. Key partners in this work are Madison-area Urban Ministry, faith communities and WI Department of Corrections.

HEALTH: $4,944,303

Ensuring people’s health issues are identified and treated early remains a top priority. Early identification and treatment of dental, behavioral and physical health problems for children at their schools improves children’s health and education outcomes and reduces the likelihood the child will need more expansive treatment of a untreated health issue. We are also expanding our work to help youth with significant emotional and behavioral health issues to transition successfully from high school to post-secondary education and/or employment. Key partners are Access Community Health Centers, Briarpatch Youth Services, Catholic Charities, Goodman Community Center, Journey Mental Health, MMSD, NAMI and Family Service.

To help seniors and people with disabilities remain independent and safe in their homes, we focus on programs that identify and address the risk of adverse drug events and falls, two of the most common reasons seniors are hospitalized and need out-of-home rehabilitative care. Key partners are Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Pharmacy Quality Collaborative, Home Health United, and local senior centers.

In 2015, United Way will continue its extremely innovative partnership with UW Health and Unity Health Insurance to operate the HealthConnect program. HealthConnect is a health insurance premium assistance program that provides financial assistance for low-income families and individuals to pay the out-of pocket costs of insurance premium for plans purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace.


Investments in this area support efforts to increase community engagement and representation of volunteers in decision-making roles, as well as support the strengthening and capacity building of non-profit agencies. In 2015 there is a particular focus on inclusion and diversity, specifically, we will work to recruit and place people of color and people from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in leadership roles on nonprofit human services boards and civic committees, as well as plan and implement board development to train boards on how to become both more inclusive and welcoming of diversity and how to strengthen their overall effectiveness. There will also be leadership and management training for current and future nonprofit staff, boards and committee members.

United Way continues to build agency capacity through financial support and volunteerism. Dane County non-profits are able to meet their leadership and program volunteer recruitment, management, and training needs through the United Way Volunteer Center and VolunteerYourTime.org, as well as give or get help through United Way 2-1-1, the community’s 24/7 non-emergency information and referral line.

“As a partner with United Way, investment funding is just one facet of how we partner together,” Sharyl Kato, Executive Director of The Rainbow Project and United Way Agency Board Representative said. “United Way helps us recruit volunteers, their training builds our staff and volunteer capacity, and the 2-1-1 phone referral system helps clients find our services. United Way helps us evaluate our program effectiveness and connects us with other groups in the community so that we can deliver results even more capably. United Way tracks and monitors progress toward our larger community goals, effectively creating positive change that improves quality of life for all Dane County residents.”

President & CEO Leslie Ann Howard thanks partners, volunteers and donors who make these investments – and their subsequent results – a reality. “United Way is a united, local effort of non-profits, business, government and many others who care about changing the human condition. Without the community’s will for change and the strategic collaboration of all of us coming together to focus on the most important issues, we wouldn’t be able to achieve the results of the Agenda for Change. Thanks to you, we are changing lives and, ultimately, our community.”

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.
  • 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—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.