Vision: All students succeed academically and graduate high school, prepared for higher education, career and community.

Goal: Ensure 95% of all students in Dane County graduate high school in six years. Students of color and students from low-income families have a 90% graduation rate by 2022.

Why it Matters:

Individuals who finish high school are more likely to have the skills required to be successful in postsecondary education, an increasingly complicated job market and society. Adults with higher education levels are more likely to have employment with family-sustaining wages.

Currently, 92% of Dane County students graduate within 6 years and 9% of Dane County children under the age of 5 are experiencing poverty (2015-2019 US Census 5-year estimates).

Education Fast Facts



families participated in community-based programming to support their children’s development & the parent’s role in early education.



 K-5 students received tutoring in literacy and 4,500 books were distributed to students (2018-19).



elementary and middle school students were screened and paired with activities for growth in social and emotional learning.

In 2021, we are investing $4,878,879 in 33 programs at 21 nonprofit partners.

Schools of Hope: Creating Access and Opportunity in Area Schools

The Schools of Hope Project (SOH) began in 1995 as a civic journalism project by the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV that studied how active community engagement could address critical local area needs. Led by United Way and in partnership with the Madison, Sun Prairie, Verona and Middleton School Districts, the project focuses on increasing reading achievement for K-5 students. United Way has received grant support since 1998 from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to provide in-school tutoring for area elementary schools. Schools of Hope provides:

Trained one-on-one literacy tutors for elementary students identified by teaching staff

Ongoing tutor training provided by school district professionals

Tutoring sessions guided by materials provided by the classroom teacher

Support for school-based family literacy programs

Become a part of Schools of Hope! AmeriCorps needs Tutor Coordinators & Literacy Tutors. 


Support parents so they may be engaged and informed on how to be their child’s first teacher to help their children be developmentally ready for school.

Ensure young children have age-appropriate skills in 5 key areas (cognitive, language and speech, social and emotional, fine motor, gross motor).

Facilitate access to additional learning opportunities across settings to enhance students’ mastery of academic content.

Build students’ social/emotional and non-cognitive skills. Foster connection, belonging, leadership and academic success with youth (disconnected or at risk of disconnecting).

Increase family engagement as a key component to improve student success.

Supporting Families with Virtual Learning

COVID-19 had a big impact on our local schools. With the shutdown in March of 2020 came the onset of virtual learning – and the influx in need for at-home school supplies. To respond to this need, we supported MMSD and the Foundation for Madison Public Schools in planning and executing a large-scale school supply stuffing event at Alliant Energy Center in September of 2020. This effort provided 2,000 elementary and 500 middle school students with the supplies needed for virtual learning.

Public Policy Priorities

Expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare as well as local home visiting and other early learning opportunities for all children in Dane County.

Support policies that close gaps in academic achievement particularly for students of color.

Increase access to affordable higher education and post-secondary education programs to ensure Dane County students are prepared for college, career and community life.

Want to help make sure all students succeed academically?

For more information, please contact Cortney Dunklin at • 608-245-8072

United Way of Dane County Invests in Education Programs at These Agencies

100 Black Men of Madison
Access Community Health Centers
ARC Community Services, Inc.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County
Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Inc.
Briarpatch Youth Services, Inc.
Centro Hispano, Inc.
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute, Inc.
Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin-
DBA Children’s Hospital of WI
Community Coordinated Child Care, Inc. (4-C), in Dane County
Families & Schools Together (FAST)
Goodman Community Center, Inc.
Literacy Network
Lussier Community Education Center, Inc.
Madison-area Urban Ministry, Inc.
DBA JustDane
Operation Fresh Start, Inc.
Simpson Street Free Press, Inc.
The Hmong Institute Inc.
The Rainbow Project, Inc.
Trained to Grow, Inc.
Urban League of Greater Madison, Inc.
Vera Court Neighborhood Center, Inc.