History

United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County is improving our community. One life at a time. One gift at a time!

The first fundraising campaign was held in 1940, bringing together donors, partner agencies and community volunteers to help those in need. Raising $325,517, United Way (then called the Community Chest) supported 30 agencies.

Having grown to one of America’s most respected and efficient nonprofit organizations, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County focuses on prepared children (assuring kids a safe and healthy start in life), successful students (helping them stay in school and graduate), strong families and individuals (supporting the well-being of individuals and families), and providing safety net services (food, shelter, clothing and emergency care).

Milestones

1940 – Community Chest of San Antonio, organized under the sponsorship of San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, conducts its first campaign, raising over $325,000 for 30 local agencies.

1942 – War Chest” campaigns are conducted through 1945 to support national defense as well as local agencies.

1943 – Community Chest and Councils of America joins with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations in supporting the initiation of payroll deductions, making it easier to give credit and acknowledgment to employees for their growing support of united health and welfare services.

1955 – Adopts new name, United Fund of San Antonio and Bexar County, to include national charities such as scouting and the American Red Cross.

1972 – Edith McAllister named first female United Way campaign chair and leads efforts to raise $3.7 million.

1973 – Renamed United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County to reflect an expanded role as a catalyst to proactively address community challenges.

1978 – New easy-to-use helpline number established — 227-4357 (HELP) — from merger with Crisis Center hotline; annual community campaign raises $6.4 million.

1983 – United Way constructs new building at 700 S. Alamo Street, United Way’s current location; annual campaign reaches $14.6 million.

1989 – Annual campaign is the first to surpass the $20 million mark.

1992 – Launches first Day of Caring, recruiting over 3,000 company employees for agency community service projects.

1999 – Three hundred women donate $1,000 to found United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council.

2002 – United Way Help Line is transformed into 2-1-1 Call Center.

2004 – United Way begins focus on three critical community impact areas–improving early care and education for children, strengthening families to become more financially stable and developing individual capacity for success; annual campaign reaches $35.4 million.

2008 – Texas Military Family Access Project established to provide military service members access to health and human care services 24/7 through the 2-1-1 Military Help Line and online services.

2009 – United Way campaign raises $45.1 million, investing in 60 partner agencies and 110 programs; CFC campaign totals $5.5 million; Women’s Leadership Council gifts total $2.2 million.

2010 – United Way is San Antonio and Bexar County’s largest private investor in health and human services programs; in 70 years donors, cumulatively contributed over $890 million to help our children succeed, strengthen families and improve our community.

2011 – U.S. Department of Education awards United Way a $23.7 million five-year Eastside Promise Neighborhood grant, one of five in the nation, to provide cradle-to-career services that put school improvement at the center of local efforts to revitalize underserved neighborhoods.

2013 – Mays Family Foundation awards $1,000,000 gift to United Way. It marks the largest-ever private gift made to the local nonprofit.

2014 – United Way forms the Emerging Leaders Council, a collective of young professionals ages 21-45, who work together to impact lives and create lasting change in the local community.

2015MISSION UNITED, a military information and referral program, was founded to help military and veteran families navigate the robust, but complex, array of community and military support programs.

2016 – United Way-led coalition for Military Family and Veterans Pilot Project was awarded a $4 million grant to help prevent child abuse and neglect among active duty military and veteran families in Bexar County

2016 – The Women’s Leadership Council changes its name to Women United to reflect a global, growing force of 70,000+ women dedicated to creating a world of opportunity for everyone.

2016 – United Way kicks off an annual Write Start Project school supply initiative supporting teachers who many times pay for items personally.

2017 – United Way’s ReadyKidSA coalition develops first ever Bexar County Children’s Agenda focusing on children age birth through eight years old (3rd grade) to ensure they are happy, healthy and ready.

2017 – Strategic alignment work begins to move United Way forward in four focus areas:  prepared children, successful students, strong individuals and families, and safety net services.

2018 – United Way, releases Requests for Proposals for three of its four Impact Councils: Ready Children, Successful Students and Strong Individuals and Families; adopts Results Based Accountability  to measure impact.

2019 – Chris Martin is named President and CEO, joining the nonprofit as President in 2018, following 29 years of service in the United Way network and 16 years of executive leadership experience.

2019The Volunteer Center at United Way hosts the 30th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards, shining a light on the people and causes that inspire volunteers to serve.

2019 — Women United marks the 20th Anniversary of its founding at annual Power of the Purse event, introduced in 2015, to benefit Childcare Scholarship recipients.

2020 –During the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way established a COVID-19 Community Response Fund with the San Antonio Area Foundation to quickly deploy resources to nonprofits across the community. Introduced COVID-19 Emergency Childcare Assistance Program to provide three weeks of emergency assistance for parents or guardians who had to leave home to go to work and were struggling to respond to the demands of providing childcare. Led Get Shift Done initiative to employ food service workers who lost their paychecks and to provide immediate support to nonprofits providing hunger relief for the surge in demand. Launched SAUnited4Good website to gather volunteer opportunities, stories and data from nonprofits and connect them to volunteers. Created community-wide Thank-a-Thon to collect and distribute notes, photos and videos of gratitude and encouragement for essential workers.

United Way Campaign Chairs 1940-2020

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