Charities love to show the smiling faces of their clients to give donors a good feeling about where their money's going.Sure, the United Way of Tarrant County does that with promotional materials featuring a glowing gaggle of kiddos wearing "Live United" T-shirts.But the organization isn't relying on warm fuzzies to justify its fundraising.Two years ago, its leaders set some specific and ambitious targets to add depth and breadth of meaning to its goal of "advancing the common good."By 2020, United Way funding would help 8,092 students at risk of dropping out of school to graduate on time. It would put 31,682 low-income working families on the path to financial stability. And it would assist 30,000 adults with chronic disabling conditions to stay healthier and in their homes longer.To work toward that plan, the agency has gradually increased the funds put into those three "impact" areas.Many donors to United Way's annual campaign designate agencies or community groups they want to help with their contributions. That's about $7 million for the 2012-13 budget year.Starting next year, 60 percent of unrestricted funding will go to entities that can work toward the goals set for education, income and health, officials said. It's an intensely focused approach to philanthropy that is already showing promise.The "Learn Well" initiative, for instance, is underwriting work with about 300,000 preschoolers and their parents in the Arlington and Birdville school districts; small-group reading sessions in nine low-income elementary schools in Fort Worth; and college and career coaching for Fort Worth middle schoolers at risk of dropping out."Earn Well" helps families with tax return preparation, financial education such as how to save and reduce debt, job training and advancement, and literacy and language classes.The average family served is a single parent with children, earning less than $25,000 a year, which makes being able to claim an Earned Income Credit of $2,500 on taxes a significant economic boost."Live Well" aims at helping people with diabetes or other chronic conditions make healthy choices, manage medications and deal with their diseases in ways that avoid hospitalization.The program also provides support for caregivers of adults with Alzheimer's.An important component of the work is independent evaluations by the University of Texas at Arlington School of Social Work, the University of North Texas Health Science Center and the Texas A&M Center for Applied Research.The first-year findings included:Arlington 4-year-olds made greater gains in letter sounds, words and overall literacy than those who didn't take part in the United Way programs.Fort Worth elementary students improved their attitudes toward reading and increased their reading levels, and at-risk middle schoolers started talking about going to college.Parents with children in the Birdville early childhood program "are changing the way they relate to their children and are seeing themselves as their children's 'first teacher,'" evaluators reported.Financial stability improved for 1,182 families, either through tax refunds, financial education sources or skills training.The evaluations also indicate where programs fall short of goals or need improvement.For instance, middle schoolers weren't showing as much progress as hoped for. And the Earn Well initiative after one year wasn't reaching enough families to meet its three-year goal, researchers found.The reports are online at www.unitedwaytarrant.org, so the public can examine the results.United Way of Tarrant County, which is celebrating 90 years of community services, aims to collect $21 million this year for its special projects and partner agencies.The shift in funding emphasis so far demonstrates that the organization understands the community's greatest needs and is making measurable progress in meeting them.