The United Way of America is an umbrella organization that works with over 1,200 local chapters of the United Way for fundraising efforts and support. The main focus for the United Way is to identify and fix important community issues by partnering with schools, businesses, and government agencies.
The beginning of the United Way isn’t the punchline it sounds like. In 1887, a woman, a priest, two ministers, and a rabbi met up and recognized that they had to work together to make Denver an overall better place. The initial meetings of this group evolved to become the country’s first campaign to benefit multiple health and welfare agencies of Denver. This campaign created an organization that raised funds for local charities and coordinated relief services. In just one year, that organization was able to raise $21,700. Taking inflation into consideration, that would amount to a little over $500,000 in the modern day.
The United Way of America and the local organizations look for strengths in communities and build on those strengths. They also help individuals and groups with community interests find ways to give of their time.
The organization collaborates with many different partners. Dependent on the situation and how the community would like to address it, the United Way may work with government agencies, schools, local businesses, and many more. Of specific note is how The United Way of America worked with the local chapters along the Gulf Coast to develop four “Alternative Spring Break” programs from 2005-2008 to help recover the areas that were affected by hurricanes Ivan, Katrina, and Rita. As a result, an Alternative Spring Break program was set up in Detroit as well.
Another great program that The United Way of American began is the 10,000 Hours Show. This program was designed to motivate the younger generation to become involved in community service by offering an incentive. If they volunteered for 10 or more hours with any of the local qualifying nonprofit organizations, they would receive free concert admission. This concert is organized by a nearby campus and the local United Way.
From its humble beginnings in Denver that raised a massive amount of money for relief almost immediately to the now non-profit giant that it is, the United Way of America continues to grow and develop the community engagement of communities throughout the nation.