Our Shared Challenge


During 2015, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi wants to lead a community conversation to ensure all of the county’s more than half-million citizens have the same opportunity to succeed.

We have an amazing quality of life in Dane County.  Madison and surrounding areas are consistently ranked as premier communities in which to work, play and raise a family. For example, recent ratings include:

We enjoy many successes.   Together, we can strive to do better and address our shared challenges including:

*41% of African Americans in Dane County live in poverty.  Nationally, the average is 28%

9.5% of Caucasians in Dane County live in poverty.

*Dane County has the widest disparity in poverty between African American and Caucasian children in the country - -57.3% versus 5.6%. Black children are 13 times more likely to be in poverty than white children in Dane County.

*Dane County’s African American unemployment rate is 24.1%. That compares to 5.0% for whites. African-Americans are almost five and a half times more likely to be jobless than their white neighbors.

The County Executive recognizes that the quickest most reliable vehicle out of poverty and toward upward mobility is having and maintaining a family sustaining job. His 2015 plan is focused on breaking down barriers along the path to gainful employment.

When we ensure that barriers to employment are broken down for everyone, we automatically impact racial disparities. Sadly, the highest rates of poverty in the county are experienced by those who represent racial minorities.