Combining successful community-based programs with sound public policy engagement leads to long-term, positive change for everyone in our community.


We recognize Wisconsin ranks among the worst states in the country for racial equity and we are committed to working with our diverse network of community members, nonprofit, business and philanthropic partners and policymakers to identify and address root causes of inequities and local challenges in Dane County. We believe that combining our investments in successful community-based programs and our caring power of convening with sound public policy engagement and advocacy will lead to long-term, positive change for everyone in our community.

We are conscious of how public policy impacts the lives of our neighbors and creates the conditions for people in our community to thrive. We are committed to using our knowledge and research of local issues to help inform decisions-makers on policies at the local, state and national levels and mobilizing our community and partner network to help design and support solutions guided by measurable results. Developed in consultation with community leaders and our partner agencies, our public policy priorities are aligned to the strategic work of our mission to support the Education, Income and Health of all people in Dane County.

United Way's Policy Agenda

Early Childhood

Our goal is to reduce the number of children under age five experiencing poverty in Dane County. We support public policies that:

  • Expand under-resourced families’ access to affordable, high-quality childcare that meets developmental, cultural and linguistic needs for all children in Dane County.
  • Provide effective professional development and family-sustaining wages for early childhood professionals.


Our goals are that all children read on grade level by third grade and all students graduate from high school. We support public policies that:

  • Close educational achievement and opportunity gaps, particularly for children of color, by supporting students both in and outside of the classroom.
  • Increase access to affordable, high-quality education and training programs to ensure all Dane County students are prepared for college, careers and community life.


Our goal is that all Dane County residents’ income is above 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. We support public policies that:

  • Improve access to job training and workforce development programs and provide support, like childcare and transportation, that workers need. The goal is to connect low-income people with jobs that offer family-sustaining wages, benefits and stable work schedules and ultimately reduce racial disparities in income and wealth in Dane County.
  • Promote equitable, anti-racist labor market practices and work environments that provide opportunities for career advancement for all.
  • Expand the amount of affordable housing in Dane County, especially for families with incomes at 30% or less of the Area Median Income and address the racial and ethnic disparities in homeownership rates.
  • Promote efforts to prevent eviction, support housing stability, reduce family homelessness and address the needs of families that are doubled-up in housing.


Our goal is to eliminate general health and average life expectancy disparities between white residents and people of color in Dane County. We support public policies that:

  • Protect and improve access to affordable, high-quality health insurance, including for those who age out of parental coverage or otherwise face transitions in their coverage.
  • Eliminate bias and racial inequities in health care and increase the provision of culturally appropriate, safe, trauma-informed care.
  • Grow and diversify the healthcare workforce.
  • Expand access to healthy food by reducing food deserts and inequities in food security.

Community Strengthening

In alignment with United Way of Dane County’s mission, we also provide support and promote citizen engagement as keys to strengthening the community and its nonprofit organizations. Therefore, we support public policies that:

  • Promote United Way of Dane County 211 as our community’s most comprehensive health and human services information and referral resource.
  • Promote civic engagement, voter education and representational leadership.
  • Promote trusted and community-centered policing best practices.

How can you take action?

One of the best ways to affect public policy is to take action yourself. Register to vote, contact your local and national politicians. Make sure your voice is heard! Check our the links below to help make a difference in your community.




Policy Action Request Form

Do you have a request for United Way to take action on a policy issue? Click to download and fill out this request form.

Policy Selection Criteria

Do you want to know how United Way approaches our policy advocacy and engagement? Click to download our advocacy criteria guide.