Agenda for Change

A roadmap for family stability and mobility from poverty

Vision: A Dane County where everyone can succeed in school, work and life. 
Mission: Unite the community to create measurable results and change lives.

Poverty can affect children’s development, academic success, overall health, and lifetime earning potential. Approximately 64,000 Dane County residents live in poverty and 15,000 of them are children. United Way of Dane County currently reaches just one third of these individuals, and we know that we can do more together.

Together with our partners, United Way of Dane County has been able to achieve results on family stability and mobility from poverty using evidence-informed strategies, data-based decision making, and community engagement through the Agenda for Change.

Below are a few of our Signature Initiatives and results in each area of the Agenda for Change.


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 exponential brain development with significant opportunity and vulnerability, depending on the relationships and environment in which the child is growing.

United Way of Dane County invests in and provides thought leadership for three evidence-informed home visiting programs—Parent-Child Home Program, Welcome Baby and Beyond, and KinderReady—through partner agencies that help parents establish positive relationships with their children while providing early literacy skills to children.

171 families received home visiting, two-generation programs that provide positive parenting skills to parents and early literacy skills children.

88% of children who complete the Parent Child Home Program are ready for Kindergarten.

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

Education is one of the key building blocks to a stable life. It benefits the community for generations: high school graduates have higher earning potential, contribute more to their local economies, and are more likely to raise kids who graduate on time while there are negative effects for those who do not graduate high school. Third grade reading scores are highly correlated with later academic success and one reason why early interventions are important.

United Way of Dane County in partnership with AmeriCorps invests in and serves 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.

57% (1,218) of a combined 2,146 elementary, middle and high school students received 15+ hours of tutoring in reading and math.


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 skillsets to be hired and earn family-sustaining wages.

United Way of Dane County in partnership with agencies and employers invests in education and industry-specific training that ultimately provide individuals with the means to obtain jobs that grow into a career with family-sustaining wages through the HIRE initiative.

In 2019, 518 people found employment through the HIRE Initiative, and 306 of them were employed at a job earning $15 an hour or more. Since 2013, 2,965 participants have found employment including 842 (29%) at $15+/hr.

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.

546 families were stability housed and 1,190 children remained in the same school through our Rapid Rehousing and Decreased School Mobility programs.


People’s health issues are identified and treated early.

Mental health concerns that go untreated can have a devastating effect on children leading to low academic achievement, and possibly, low employment outcomes.

United Way of Dane County partners with Journey Mental Health and local school districts to offer the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) school-based group intervention for youth who have experienced a traumatic event and are experiencing mental health concerns.

3,775 Dane County students received behavioral health treatment, helping them focus academically. 3,312 6th graders in 5 districts assessed for anger, anxiety, and depression; 331 referred and treated.

Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.

When older adults take multiple medications, they are at an increased risk of having an adverse drug event (negative reaction to a medication), which can lead to falls, hospitalization, and/or nursing home care.

United Way of Dane County partners with the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin on the Comprehensive Medication Review program to complete assessments of medication and prescriptions for older adults at community locations.

225 older adults received comprehensive medication reviews (CMRs) through the community-based CMR and medical-based Smart Meds programs and Safe at Home Program.

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