One of my favorite parts of American Family’s culture statement comes at the end, when the focus turns to our communities.

We are a catalyst for change. So people will say: “This is a better community because American Family is part of it.”

As American Family’s United Way campaigns draw to a close, I was thinking again about all the ways we’re doing what’s right for our communities. United Way is a huge part of this! To me, our involvement is the key.

In my time as CEO, I’m proud our employees, agents and company invested more than $11 million in our communities through United Way – including more than $2 million in 2017 alone.

Serving as the 2014 United Way of Dane County campaign chair was one of the best professional experiences I’ve had. It was amazing, but hard work. I saw firsthand how United Way – and the people and organizations who support it – can be a catalyst for change.

Keep in mind, this was when the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families released the “Race to Equity” report. It hit me like a punch in the gut, with data clearly showing disparities in employment, education, juvenile arrest rates, and adult incarceration levels. Unfortunately, these disparities are common across our country. But, in our hometown, the results were among the worst in the nation.

The report also became a catalyst for work that my wife, Sarah, and I – and American Family – have supported since: United Way’s HIRE program.

HIRE benefits adults who haven’t graduated and are seeking steady employment. It links local businesses to diverse talent, and provides training for job seekers to ensure families are more stable.

Since 2013, more than 2,200 people have found gainful employment through HIRE. And last year alone, nearly 400 people found jobs through HIRE, about 130 of which pay $15 an hour or more.

We need to keep being that catalyst – finding new and better ways to help families coordinate childcare, transportation, job training, and affordable housing. We must make sure we are supporting the whole family.

I’m convinced if we want to be a leading company long into the future, we must find more ways to positively impact the communities where we live, work, and serve. Being a growing and profitable business is really important. But we need to be more. That’s why we:

  • Are a leading United Way supporter.
  • Have a foundation providing matching dollars.
  • Host a PGA TOUR Champions golf tournament three years running.
  • Make a Summerfest investment in Milwaukee that includes a big community component.
  • Built Spark.
  • Launched the new American Family Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

There are many ways to give back to our communities. Supporting United Way is at the top of the list for American Family agents, employees and our company as a whole. Thanks to all our people – and those in our communities – who make United Way a priority in your giving and volunteering.