Our Vision

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

Our Goal

Increase the graduation rate for Dane County students of color and students from low income families.

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, 93% of Dane County students graduate high school within six years – however, the graduation rate is 80% for Black students, 89% for Hispanic/Latino students and 86% for economically disadvantaged students (2020-2021 School Year, Department of Public Instruction).

Impact on Local Students & Families in 2021


saw improved parent child interaction and/or parenting knowledge (2,043 families with children aged 0-5).


improved their social/emotional and non-cognitive skills - realted to motivation, integrity and personal interaction (1,132 students in Grades 6-8).


graduated high school in Dane County (198 students).

How We Invested in 2021

Investment: $4,878,879

Agenda for Change Programs: 33

Solutions Team Volunteers: 20

Program Participants: 7,108


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 five 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.

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 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

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

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

100 Black Men of Madison
Access Community Health Centers
ARC Community Services
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County
Boys & Girls Club of Dane County
Centro Hispano
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute
Children’s Hospital of WI
Community Coordinated Child Care (4-C)
Families & Schools Together (FAST)
Goodman Community Center

Literacy Network
Lussier Community Education Center
Operation Fresh Start
RISE Wisconsin
Simpson Street Free Press
The Hmong Institute
The Rainbow Project
Trained To Grow
Urban League of Greater Madison
Vera Court Neighborhood Center