Agenda for Change

A roadmap for family stability and mobility from poverty

At United Way of Dane County, our mission is to unite the community to create measurable results and change lives. We focus on identifying the root causes of issues and discovering solutions – with the help of our hundreds of nonprofit and community partners.

Together we’ve been able to achieve results on family stability and well-being using evidence-informed strategies, data-based decision making and community engagement through what we call our Agenda for Change. See our most up-to-date results here.


Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.

Decades of research show a child’s first years are a period full of brain development with significant opportunity and vulnerability, depending on the relationships and environment in which they’re growing up.

That is why we invest in and provide thought leadership for three evidence-informed home visiting programs – Parent-Child+, Welcome Baby and Beyond and Kinder Ready – through partner agencies that help parents establish positive relationships with their children and early literacy.

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Students succeed academically and graduate from high school prepared for higher education, career and community.

We know that education is one of life’s key building blocks. In fact, third grade reading scores are highly correlated with later academic success, and high school graduates have higher earning potential! Initiatives focused on education benefit us all as a cohesive society.

We partner with AmeriCorps to invest in and serve as program directors, staff and tutors of Schools of Hope – a program that has provided individualized literacy instruction in elementary schools for over twenty years. We also support additional programs that prepare youth both for the classroom and life beyond it through mentorship, tutoring and social-emotional learning.

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More people are on pathways out of poverty.

Jobs go unfilled in Dane County because employers can’t find workers with the right qualifications, while those in greatest need of a job often don’t have the necessary skillset to be hired and earn family-sustaining wages.

We look to tackle that problem by partnering with agencies and employers to invest in education and industry-specific training that ultimately provides individuals with the means to obtain jobs that grow into a career – we call this our HIRE initiative.

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There is a decrease in family homelessness.

Children who are homeless are twice as likely to go hungry than other children. They experience three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems and are more than twice as likely as others to repeat a school grade, be expelled or suspended or drop out of high school.

United Way of Dane County invests in and provides thought leadership for three partner agencies through the Housing First program by providing quality case management and direct access to affordable housing for families facing homelessness.

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Reduce racial health disparities in Dane County.

Health inequities that arise from social, economic, environment and structural disparities contribute to difference in health outcomes.

It is important that we work actively to reduce these disparities and ensure all have equal access to health care by supporting community-based health programs – especially those specifically aimed at reducing disparities faced by our BIPOC community.

Increase resiliency and trauma supports for Dane County residents.

We know that intercultural clinical communication depends on more than language. And it’s important to invest in programs that understand that broader cultural knowledge is needed for ALL looking to discuss symptoms and health concerns.

We strive to increase culturally-safe and responsive trauma and resiliency programs for our BIPOC communities by supporting the embedding of culture brokers into care teams for individuals and families disengaged from mental health supports due to racism, power dynamics and distrust.


(Multigenerational approach)

Build family well-being by intentionally and simultaneously working with children under five and the adults in their lives together.

The ways in which we build the well-being of adults are directly connected to the ways we build the well-being of their children, and vice-versa. By viewing a family as a co-dependent unit, we’re more likely to support the success of multiple generations.

We’ve invested in 14 agencies and 19 programs to identify and address the historical and structural barriers that undermine a family’s overall well-being and work with the family to solve problems and access new resources to meet their goals and sharpen existing skills.

Join the fight for the education, financial stability and health of everyone in Dane County. Give. Advocate. Volunteer.