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 its 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 to download 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 properties 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 its 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 black woman to serve as board president in 2004.
Remarkably, some of the same human service agencies that came under the umbrella of the Council of Social Agencies in 1922 remain United Way of Allen County agency partners today. Among them: Fort Wayne Rescue Mission and Salvation Army of Allen County.