All students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race

Why It Matters

* All children can succeed and contribute to society.
* Equal access is fundamental for the future.
* No one can be economically secure unless all of us are.
* Investing in children early provides greater long-term returns and is less costly than retraining later in life.

Dane County Facts
* Our community’s demographics are changing.
* 42 percent of children in Madison schools are non-white.
* 50 percent of entering kindergarteners are non-white.


The Growing Up Getting Ready Community Solution Team envisions a Dane County where children and youth have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood in a caring community and to develop their full potential as they become responsible and contributing community members.

What We’re Doing

We’re working with the Schools of Hope partners to eliminate the racial achievement gap and improve the educational success all of students in our schools. The number one strategy used by this partnership is to place volunteer tutors in schools to provide one-on-one interaction with students.

  • 3rd Grade Reading
    Research tells us that the most reliable predictor of educational success for children is whether they are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. In 1995, there was a 21 percent difference in the success rates of white students and students of color in Madison. Together with the Schools of Hope partners, we reduced the gap to 2 percent by the end of the 2004 school year. By focusing on a specific target, we were able to elicit community-wide change and improve the lives of all children.
  • Algebra by 10th Grade
    Currently, the gap between the percentage of white students and African American students who have completed algebra by 10th grade is 32 percent. According to research, a child from a low-income family who completes algebra has virtually the same chance of going to college as a child from an upper-income family who passes the course. It’s not about the math, it’s about learning to solve problems. In 2005, every ethnic group showed an increase in the percentage of students completing Algebra by 10th grade, with African American students showing the most dramatic improvement.
  • Expanding our Impact
    We’re expanding the success of Schools of Hope into areas outside of Madison by working to reduce the racial achievement gap in Sun Prairie and Verona. In Sun Prairie, within the first six months of the program, 50 volunteer tutors were recruited and trained, helping 98 students improve their reading skills. As we work together to create solutions for all of Dane County, we are empowering students to succeed in school and in life.

What We’ll Accomplish

Increase the percentage of students who pass algebra by the 10th grade

  • Research tells us that 10th grade algebra is the gateway to critical thinking

Will eliminate the 3rd grade racial achievement gap in districts outside of Madison

  • Research tells us that 3rd grade reading is the gateway to reading to learn.

Past Success

  • Prior to Schools of Hope Literacy Project, 29 percent of African American Students in Madison were reading below grade level
  • Nine years later, in 2004, that percentage has been reduced to 5.1 percent

What We'll Accomplish
What’s Being Said

What You Can Do

Contact the staff of United Way’s Academic Success Community Solutions Team.


  • Briony MacPhee
  • Director Community Impact
  • (608) 245-8072


  • Dr. Jennifer Cheatham
  • Madison Metropolitan School District

Vice Chair:

  • Derrell Connor
  • Hemb Insurance Group, LLC

Volunteer. Call the United Way Volunteer Center at (608) 246-4380 or visit to search for area volunteer opportunities.

Donate now to United Way of Dane County.



children - Kalyna

74 year old Donna was concerned about her granddaughter’s development. Now, thanks to weekly visits to a United Way Mobile Play and Learn site, she has the tools to help Kalyna grow and thrive.


Donna was overwhelmed. It had been a long time since she had raised her own children, and she felt unprepared to care for her 2 year old granddaughter Kalyna while Kalyna’s mother worked. Donna knew how important it was for Kalyna to spend time with children her own age. When a friend told Donna about United Way’s Mobile Play and Learn sites, sponsored through a collaboration with Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin, Kalyna was finally able to play with children her own age and improve her social skills. “She really has blossomed,” says Donna, “She’s so excited every time we pull into the parking lot.” These play groups have also helped Donna. Child rearing methods have improved over time: “Now I know the importance of speaking with Kalyna and encouraging her to express herself.” Activities like these allow Kalyna to build the language skills she needs to prepare for kindergarten. Donna also looks forward to the monthly bulletins she receives from the Mobile Play and Learn. With these tools, she is able to bring the lessons she learns home so she can continue teaching Kalyna as they play.

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

Why it Matters

Children need to develop pre-literacy skills

  • Children are more successful in school when they enter ready to learn


Children deserve to be safe and have a stimulating and nurturing environment


Children who are not being read to:

  • Have a lower vocabulary
  • Start school behind other children
  • Have slower brain development
  • Are less likely to succeed


Dane County Facts

  • 26,300 children under 5 live in Dane County
  • 7.5 percent of these children live in poverty
  • 42 percent of children do not have age-appropriate skills when they start school



The Growing Up Getting Ready Community Solution Team envisions a Dane County where children and youth have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood in a caring community and to develop their full potential as they become responsible and contributing community members.


What We’re Doing

We are pursuing three main strategies that are helping children in Dane County have a healthy and happy early childhood.

  • Parental Education and Support
    To be prepared to learn in kindergarten, children need pre-literacy skills. They must also be able to make and keep friends, develop positive relationships with adults, and feel a sense of opportunity and excitement for the world around them. As their child’s first teacher, much of this responsibility falls upon parents. That’s why we’re visiting first=time parents at their homes and giving them the tools they need to succeed. We’re also providing access to a research-based parenting newsletter to parents of children not receiving this information from local hospitals. We’re helping parents understand the developmental stages of their children, so they in turn can help their children grow up healthy and strong.
  • United Way Born Learning Play and Learn
    United Way and partners are reaching out to children through Play and Learn sites. Caregivers are taught how to be their child’s first teacher through participatory play on a scheduled basis. United Way Born Learning Mobile Play and Learn – reaching five sites throughout Dane County – has been funded through a generous grant from the Caritas Foundation.
  • Supporting Early Childhood Education
    We’re helping child care providers grow as professionals through workshops and other educational opportunities that provide them with best practices and chances to share what works. By bringing caregivers together, we’re giving them a chance to learn practical ways they can influence early literacy and math skills. By improving the abilities and effectiveness of child care providers, we are reaching children across Dane County.


Program Partners

  • ARC Community Services
  • Boys & Girls Club of Dane County
  • Children’s Service Society of Wisconsin
  • Community Coordinated Child Care (4C) in Dane County
  • Dane County Parent Council
  • Deerfield Community Center
  • East Madison Community Center
  • Exchange Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse
  • Family Enhancement
  • Girl Scouts of the Black Hawk Council
  • Goodman Community Center
  • Kennedy Heights Community Center
  • Lussier Community Education Center
  • Neighborhood House
  • Respite Center
  • VA Kids Center
  • Vera Court Neighborhood Center
  • Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center
  • YMCA of Dane County


Community Partners

  • City of Madison
  • Dane County
  • Madison Metropolitan School District

¬†What We’ll Accomplish

  • Increase the number of children who enter school ready to learn
  • Parents who better understand their child’s development
  • Children have better relationships with adults

Past Success

  • Eliminated the waiting list for home visits for first-time parents at-risk for child neglect or abuse
  • Helped over 2,000 children through support for preschool and after school care in neighborhood centers and school sites
  • Improved collaboration with County, City, University and schools in four distinct areas ensuring that children grow up healthy and happy
What We'll Accomplish

April 26, 2010

The chronic issues of mental illness and homelessness are being evaluated by United Way’s Delegation to Improve Behavioral Health. Understanding the connection between the two is helping to achieve the most effective approach in solving the problems.

What You Can Do

Contact the staff of United Way’s Born Learning Community Solutions Team.


  • Lauren Martin
  • Director Community Impact
  • (608) 246-5488


  • Michael Morgan
  • Community Leader

Vice Chair:

  • Fabiloa Hamdan
  • Joining Forces for Families

Volunteer. Call the United Way Volunteer Center at (608) 246-4380 or visit to search for area volunteer opportunities.

Helpful Links and Resources