The only thing better than setting and achieving ambitious goals is taking a few minutes to celebrate that achievement once accomplished. And in this case, celebrating all the good that will come from that success.

The United Way of Dane County announced last week that — thanks to the success of its 2011 fundraising campaign — $15 million will be plowed into 80 nonprofits in our community in the coming year. The funds will support more than 200 individual programs in those nonprofits.

The United Way touts its Agenda for Change — comprised of seven areas of need identified by the community as the most critical to our well-being — as the driver of fund allocation. And clearly the Dane County community is supporting that agenda.

In all, more than 38,000 area residents contributed to the campaign that raised more than $16.8 million. That number also included more than 1,100 businesses and organizations that participated in the United Way campaign. (The difference between the money raised and spent is the cost for administration, fundraising and an allocation for pledges that don't come through.)

Leslie Ann Howard, president and CEO of the Dane County United Way, said the organization seeks to make a measurable impact in the county by "tackling the underlying causes to create lasting solutions."

That annual process starts with the fundraising campaign and concludes with the decisions announced last week about how to allocate those funds. Just like it takes volunteers to raise the money, it also takes volunteers to evaluate options, study up on best practices and ultimately make decisions about how to best invest those precious resources.

A few highlights on the 2012 allocations:

• Education efforts, and especially tutoring programs led by Centro Hispano and the Urban League of Greater Madison, will receive nearly $3.5 million. That helps more than 1,000 tutors work with more than 7,200 students through Dane County.

• Programs designed to get little kids ready for kindergarten will receive $1.1 million.

• Housing efforts, with an emphasis on reducing family homelessness, will receive $2.6 million this year.

• Helping senior citizens remain safe and healthy, with specific strategies to reduce negative drug reactions and falls so seniors can remain at home and independent, will receive $1.4 million.

The success of the 2011 campaign, and the smart, targeted distribution of those funds so generously contributed by so many, is truly worth celebrating.

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