History

Who is United Way of the Mohawk Valley?

United Way of the Mohawk Valley is a leading innovator, problem solver and connector. We go above and beyond the tasks of raising and distributing funds. We help leaders from the public and private sectors develop agendas, prioritize community needs, and find solutions in the most effective ways.

You can help us meet our communities needs. Donate today.

United Way is one of our community's largest funders, funding dozens of local programs and initiatives. We work with our funded partners to ensure outcomes are being met and impact is being made. We plan for the future, yet have the ability to be nimble in times of crisis or disaster. By looking ahead, working hard, and planning carefully, United Way can anticipate needs and respond quickly.

Through our Strategic Investment process, United Way carefully analyzes local needs, as well as social and economic changes in the community before thoroughly reviewing the agency’s request for support. This process allows us to make tough, yet smart, goal-oriented decisions regarding the region's most critical needs. To be considered for United Way funding, each program must meet a number of important standards, including but not limited to the following; the agency must provide a human care service that meets an important need in the community, be governed by a board of volunteers, be legally recognized as a not-for-profit organization, comply with New York State (not-for-profit) audit guidelines, and operate at a reasonable cost.
 
Our work doesn't stop there. We have a unique set of data and skillsets that allows us to identify gaps in services and emerging needs and create solutions. Through our initiatives are tackling the tough issues in early childhood education with Ready for Kindergarten, financial stability with Free Tax Prep, ESPRI and our Housing Team, healthy lifestyles, and access to services through 211

Our Local History

United Way of the Mohawk Valley is an independent, volunteer-led, locally governed, non-profit organization that has been serving the people of the Mohawk Valley since 1921.

Our United Way began as the Utica Community Chest on November 1, 1921. Founding executives included Fredrick T. Proctor, Warnick J. Kernan, and Frank X. Matt. Our United Way addresses the root causes of key issues, is accountable for stewardship of resources, and is accountable for short-term and long-term results. We partner with community volunteers to best serve the Mohawk Valley with the Board of Directors and several committees made up entirely of local volunteer experts and professionals.

United Way Network

There are hundreds of community-based United Way organizations throughout many countries and territories, each run by local citizens. While they are similar in many ways, they are tailored to meet the needs of their own communities. Contributions to United Ways result in financial support for agencies and service groups providing human care services.

All over the country, there are thousands of people helping other people. They, like you, are volunteers. For hundreds of years, volunteers have made a difference in the lives of people who needed a helping hand. The spirit of caring for our fellow human beings is part of our heritage and part of the mission of United Way.
 
United Ways have built a proud record of meeting community needs, but they couldn’t have done it without volunteers – individuals who volunteer where they work, individuals who volunteer to help United Ways raise and distribute funds and resolve community problems, and individuals who volunteer to serve with agencies either on their boards or providing direct services.

Where it all began.

How did it all start? United Way concept of planning and funding community health and welfare services got its start in Denver in 1887. In that year, Denver was plagued by welfare problems, the result of 20 years of rapid growth. During the previous two decades, Denver’s population had skyrocketed from 5,000 to 100,000 – a dramatic increase even by today’s standards. Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish leaders joined forces to organize fundraising to meet the needs of the poor. With this, the United Way concept was born, bringing groups and individuals together in the community to care for one another.
 
For more than a century, United Way organizations have been meeting the needs of people, and in that time, we have all seen many changes come about causing subsequent changes in the types of services provided. The tidal wave of immigration early in the century, the World Wars, the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, the post-War years of prosperity followed by the War on Poverty all had a significant influence on how United Ways responded and cared for those in need. Whatever the situation called for, United Ways were there anticipating needs, mobilizing their communities, and providing help where it was most needed.

United Way organizations grew in popularity because they offered a unified approach to problems, reduced the number of appeals from local charities, and allowed people to support a wide range of services, with one gift. Despite a common commitment to helping people, United Way organizations went by a host of names. You may be familiar with some of them: Community Chest, Red Feather Campaign, Good Neighbors Fund, Torch Drive, and United Fund. In fact, it wasn’t until the early 1970’s that the majority of these organizations adopted one common name, United Way. In 1887, Denver was plagued with welfare problems; the result of 20 years of rapid population growth. Community leaders joined forces to organize fundraising efforts to meet the needs of the city.

With this, United Way concept was born – Mobilizing organized groups and individuals to work together and care for one another by planning and funding health and human services.

United Way organizations grew in popularity because they offered a unified approach to problems, reduced the number of appeals from local charities, and allowed people to support a wide range of services with just one gift.

United Way Today.

For more than 125 years, United Way has evolved to meet the needs of the times. United Way still provides solutions to communities' toughest problems. But we're not your grandfather's United Way. Today, United Ways go far beyond the tasks of raising and distributing funds. We are leaders working to resolve community problems.

Today's United Way is bringing people, organizations and communities together around a common cause, a common vision, and a common path forward. In many communities, we're the only nonprofit building up the cornerstones of education, financial stability and health—and the only nonprofit bringing people together from all walks of life to be a part of local solutions.

We're not doing it alone. United Way is able to make a lasting difference because we work together with strategic partners who share our vision.We're engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories, where people are powering big ideas and big action by donating, volunteering and speaking out through United Way.

What is United Way Worldwide?

United Way Worldwide’s global network provides the foundation for increased community impact in all communities. It consists of interdependent capabilities distributed at the global, regional, national, and local levels, strengthened by centers of excellence. United Way Worldwide is a recognized nonprofit leader in building a stronger and more vibrant community. United Way Worldwide is the leadership and support organization for the network of community-based United Ways. We envision a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability, and healthy lives. 

Are United Ways related?

We’re one of 1,800 community-based United Ways around the world – each separately incorporated and independently governed by local volunteers. Money raised here, stays here. Because United Ways can
sometimes be more efficient and effective together, United Way Worldwide provides support and helps maintain national consistency on matters that affect all United Ways. In exchange for guidance, training and, development services, each local United Way, including ours, makes a membership investment in United Way Worldwide (one percent of each contributed dollar. United Way Worldwide does not have input on how local United Ways invest their contributions.

To be continued...

As you can see, we've changed over the years to address the challenges of a changing world. But the one that thing hasn't changed is our focus on improving lives and strengthening communities. There are lots of ways you can be part of this change. Join us!