Our History

First United Campaign

The first United Way organization was formed in 1887 in Denver by four clergymen: Rev. Myron W. Reed, Monsignor William J. O’Ryan, Dean H Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S Friedman who recognized the need for cooperative action to solve the city’s welfare problems. The Charity Organization of Society, a forerunner of United Way, was the first united campaign to coordinate services and fund-raising for a group of charitable organizations.

First Modern Community Chest

The nation’s first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

War Chests

During the World War I era, War Chests were formed to provide relief for the armed forces and their families, as well as refugees in Europe.

Community Chest of Greater New Haven Formed

Monopoly/Community Chest

Dan Laycock of Reading, PA adds Community Chest to his version of The Finance Game. The game was purchased by Hasbro in 1935 and renamed Monopoly

Payroll Deduction

Payroll deduction is developed causing workplace campaigns to proliferate. Formal relationships with unions, large companies, and local national government begin during this period.

The Red Feather

The Red Feather was adopted as the national symbol of the 1949 Community Chest campaign. It represented each individual’s contribution to health and welfare assistance in the community.

Richard C. Lee

Richard C. Lee was elected mayor of New Haven in 1953. Lee was determined to arrest the decline of New Haven’s center city area. The new mayor began a program for the city’s redevelopment, which brought leading architects to New Haven. He was later Executive Director of United Way of Greater New Haven from 1975 – 1981.

“United Way” is adopted as the official name nationally.¬†

United Way of Greater New Haven Established

United Fund of Greater New Haven and the Community Council of Greater New Haven are consolidated to form the United Way of Greater New Haven.

United Way Logo

The United Way logo, representing the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow symbolizing hope,was created by Saul Bass, a prominent graphic designer.

NFL Partnership

The National Football League (NFL) and United Way established a partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements in which NFL players, coaches and owners appear, NFL players support their local United Ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.

United Way International Formed

United Way International was formed to help nations around the world form United Way type organizations.

United Way 211

In 1973, when Charles Newton Schenck, III was United Way of Greater New Haven’s Board President, he learned of a system offered by a few United Way communities around the country. They provided free help via the telephone – a single source for information about community services, referrals, and crisis intervention. He worked tirelessly to bring this system to Connecticut. In 1976, Infoline was created as a public / private partnership of United Way and the State of Connecticut. Connecticut was the first state in the nation to provide this service statewide.

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Leadership Circle Formed

UWGNH estabilished the “Leadership Circle” to recognize leaders in giving- individuals who make a contribution between $1,000 and $9,999.

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United Way recognizes its centennial by saluting the American volunteer through many programs, including the dedication of a United Way postage stamp.

Olympic Community Heroes

The Atlanta Committee for Olympic Games chooses United Way to coordinate the “Community Heroes” runners for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay. William T. O’Brian Jr., was chosen as a Community Hero Torchbearer for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay New Haven leg.

Greater New Haven Alexis de Tocqueville Society Formed

Michael McHugh and Hebert H. Pearce established the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Greater New Haven. Calling it “a program that was good for the United Way and therefore good for Greater New Haven,” they set a goal of getting five people to commit to joining the society in its first year. Thanks to their incredible efforts, the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Greater New Haven was launched with 10 members in 1997

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First Million Dollar Campaign

Yale University becomes United Way of Greater New Haven’s first million dollar workplace campaign.


In response to the recession, Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine was created by United Way of Greater New Haven and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven to get quick, effective assistance with housing costs and healthy food to people in need.

United Way Worldwide Formed

United Way International and United Way of America came together to create United Way Worldwide, the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the World, with more than 1,800 United Ways in 41 countries and territories.

School Change Initiative 

Boost!, a partnership between United Way of Greater New Haven, New Haven Public Schools, and the City of New Haven formed to: Eliminate the achievement gap by raising test scores to the state average; Cut the high school dropout rate in half; Ensure every student is academically prepared and financially able to attend and succeed in college.

100 Day Challenge

United Way played a leading role in the 100-Day Challenge to End Homelessness in Greater New Haven: an effort to bring all the homlessness-serving organizations in our region together to find housing for 75 percent of the chronically homeless individuals.

The Work Continues

United Way of Greater New Haven continues to adapt and grow in order to better serve our community.