Our History

United Way Worldwide

United Way was founded in 1887 by four religious leaders in Denver who recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems.

These four leaders planned the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies and created an organization to:

  • collect funds for local charities
  • coordinate relief services
  • counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies
  • make emergency assistance grants (in cases which could not be referred)

The result of the 1887 campaign? Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become United Way.

United Way of the Midlands

Community Chest, a name adopted by many local United Way agencies, was launched in 1925 through the Columbia Chamber of Commerce. The first community-wide campaign raised its goal of $60,000.

Since then,  the United Way organization and local community support have continued to develop and in 1976-1977, United Way services in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield and Newberry counties merged to create United Way of the Midlands. Orangeburg and Calhoun counties joined United Way of the Midlands in 2003.

Our Future

With a mission to unite people and resources to improve the quality of life in the Midlands, United Way of the Midlands focuses on helping students succeed in school, reducing homelessness, and providing affordable health care. More than 30,000 donors support United Way, and we work with 65 Community Impact Partners. Our annual impact on the Midlands is almost $20 million.

Want to be part of something bigger?

Give, volunteer, or join a United Way affinity group today to make an impact that stays here in your community.