Find Your Local United Way

OUR MISSION AND HISTORY

Our Mission

To harness, leverage and strategically invest the collective power of donors, advocates and volunteers, to drive measurable results that improve the lives of people in our region.

Our History

In 1887, in response to the city’s problems, religious leaders in Denver came together to plan the first united campaign on behalf of 10 welfare agencies.  This effort formed the Charity Organizations Society and was the first “United Way” organization, which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fund-raising campaign benefitting 22 agencies. The organization served as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well coordinated relief services, counseled and referred clients to cooperating agencies, and made emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred.  That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way. More than 125 years later, United Way remains one of the most powerful ways for individuals and corporations to make an impact on local health, education, and social service needs.

1913 - The nation’s first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland.  In its first campaign there was no dollar goal, only a goal to involve as many contributors as possible.  More than 6,000 individuals and organizations responded and the benefits of a collective volunteer effort were realized.  These volunteers were the first in the county to set up a volunteer-driven system to study human care needs, distribute and monitor their use which became the model for United Way organizations across the country.

1919 - Rochester, New York, used the name Community Chest, a name widely adopted by United Way organizations and used until the early 1950s. This year began a 10-year growth period in the number of Community Chests: 39 in 1919; 353 in 1929.

1921 – United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania is formed by members of the business community.

1924 – United Way of Southeast Delaware County is formed from the joint philanthropy of John Pew of Sun Shipbuilding and Colonel James Campbell of the Delaware County Trust Company.

1938 – United Way of Atlantic County is formally organized with election of Board of Trustees.

1948 - More than 1,000 communities had established United Way organizations across the country.

1957 - United Way of Burlington County is formed.

1960 – United Way of Camden County is established.

1981 – United Way of Cape May County is created.

1986 – United Way of Greater Cumberland County is founded.

2012 – United Way celebrates its 125th anniversary.

2012 - Local United Way staff and volunteer leaders in our region come together to form United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

As originally conceived, United Way still ensures resources are collectively used in the most powerful way to solve the region’s most pressing issues.  We are committed to engaging entire communities and providing the tools, services, and expertise that can enable individuals and families to become stronger and more independent.

Learn more about Our Work in Education, Income and Health.