You may know our name, but do you know who we are? United Way of Allen County, a locally controlled non-profit organization, has been a pillar in this community for nearly 100 years. With our long-standing history it is possible that you have heard of us. Has it been awhile since we’ve had coffee and talked about the community barriers facing our beloved neighborhoods? Let’s catch up. That’s one the things you should know about us, we are always listening. That and well, we take our coffee with a splash of cream. Got a minute? Let us introduce you to the new United Way of Allen County.
Today, we are developing new collaborations with the purpose of working toward solutions that will eradicate the "same old" problems facing families here in Allen County. We have learned a few things in our first century serving this community and one of the most important is that we always get more done and with greater impact when we work together with others. Whether it is the State of Indiana asking if we can help pilot the On My Way Pre-K program ensuring that children enter kindergarten ready to learn or financially partnering with a local non-profit to ensure that families have food, shelter, and other basic needs, United Way leads the collaborative charge to solve social dilemmas in our community.
United Way of Allen County and our partners are committed to helping families that are working hard but struggling to survive. We know that above the poverty line does not mean out of the woods, and this population frequently falls between the cracks. Through our evidence-based research we have come to understand this group as ALICE. We can introduce you to ALICE here.
One of our most famous tag lines is LIVE UNITED. We take that mantra seriously. For us, it's the way we think, and it guides what we do. We define LIVE UNITED, not as "we" the organization, but as "we" the Allen County community. Together, united, we have the power to bring about positive change within our neighborhoods and improve the lives of those who work and live in Allen County.
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Lincoln National Life Insurance Co. executive Arthur F. Hall, one of the founding members of what was to become United Way of Allen County, set out the philanthropic principle that has guided the region’s attention to human service needs for more than 90 years. This united effort to help people become self-sufficient led to the debut of the Council of Social Agencies in 1922. Since then, the group has changed names numerous times, often to address periods of specific need. It became the Fort Wayne Community Chest in 1925, Federated Relief Agencies Inc. in 1931, a member of the United War Chest in 1942, Allen County Community Chest and Social Planning Council in 1945, United Chest-Council of Allen County in 1956, United Community Services in 1963 and finally United Way of Allen County in 1972.
United Way of Allen County is one of approximately 1,800 United Way organizations in 45 countries and territories. Although all are members of United Way Worldwide, they are independent, separately incorporated, and governed by a local board of directors.
In Allen County, United Way's community campaigns have risen from $124,813 in the organization’s first year to approximately $5 million. The number of funded partners—human service organizations that undergo standards and audit examinations—has grown from 19 to 37. And our offices have changed locations several times. In 2006, it moved from the historic United Way Building at 227 E. Washington Blvd. to the historic McCulloch-Weatherhogg House at 334 E. Berry St. Click here for more information about the McCulloch-Weatherhogg House.
United Way of Allen County was the first in Indiana to activate 2-1-1, an information and referral phone service that links people to various human services. Additional support to the community includes Day of Caring, which has continued for more than 20 years, sending out teams of workers to fix homes, groom non-profits and lift spirits. Each year, approximately 1,700 volunteers complete a variety of work projects.
In 2008, United Way of Allen County launched focused education initiatives and took a leadership role within the community and region for kindergarten readiness. United Way coordinates the Kindergarten Countdown initiative and is the lead agency for the state-funded pre-k pilot program On My Way Pre-K in Allen County.
United Way relies on the board of directors, staff, and thousands of volunteers to carry out our many missions. Board members, staff, and volunteers have included some of the brightest, most dedicated people in the community and have represented a diverse spectrum of interests, backgrounds and cultures. Included in their ranks are Stephanie McCormick, who became the first woman to serve as Chief Executive Officer in 2002 and Frances Ganaway who became the first African-American woman to serve as Board President in 2004.