From insight to impact: How data can inform next steps in our community and at our Foundation

Jul 19, 2023 | News & Events

Since 2007, the United Way of Portage County has been coordinating the LIFE Report. This remarkable work unites civic leaders every five years to review public data and conduct a community survey, identifying the urgent “Calls to Action” in our county. The Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin is proud to support this work and provide leadership on the Executive Committee and Steering Committee. This year the “Calls to Action” include Behavior Health, Early Childhood Care & Education, and Shelter & Housing.

On July 11, the United Way brought the community together to learn about the 2022-23 “Calls to Action” and to unveil This site is a pioneering online data platform empowering communities to use data to prioritize and take action.

Fred Hebblewhite, CEO of the United Way of Portage County, invited the community to leverage the LIFE Report,, and the “Calls to Action” in their organizational and collaborative planning. In addition, Jenny Riggenbach facilitated a panel discussion focused on key data points that impact and describe the severity of the “Calls to Action.”

Jenny was joined by Dr. Sam Klebe, Chief Medical Officer of Marshfield Clinic; Bob Smith, President of Aspirus Southeast Division, Stevens Point and Plover Hospitals; Ray Ackerlund, President of Skyward; Mae Nachman, Vice President of Community Impact at United Way of Portage County; Nicole Harrison, President & CEO of CAP Services; Gretchen Hintz, Supervisor at Portage County Health & Human Services; and Chris Weisgram, Health Planner, Portage County Health and Human Services.

The Panel discussed a variety of important data points. One alarming statistic stood out, nearly 31% of Portage County Households live at or below the ALICE threshold (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, & Employed). That means that nearly 1/3 of our community does not earn enough to cover their basic household needs, including housing, healthcare, and childcare. When looking at each Portage County community individually, the rates range between 15% and 46% of households living at or below the ALICE threshold. This becomes an important consideration as organizations like the Community Foundation consider partnerships and allocation of resources.  

In the coming months, the Foundation will also be taking a closer look at the Waushara County ALICE data and the CAP Services Needs Assessment that tracks the vitality and needs of Portage and Waushara counties. We are grateful to the Portage County United Way and CAP Services for providing these important tools. We encourage you to learn more at and begin the conversation with your networks.

The Community Foundation is in the process of planning an engagement opportunity that will bring partners and community members together to explore how these reports and data inform our community grantmaking processes. If you would like to learn more, please email with your name, contact information, and a few words that describe why participating is important to you. We believe your involvement can be the catalyst for strengthening our communities into the future.

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