United Way of McLean County began in 1935 when the Community Chest merged with United Welfare Foundation, a forerunner organization that was started over a decade earlier. H. Monroe Dodge was the first board president and the first campaign raised $57,000.
During the Great Depression, the Community Chest and its charter agencies, including: Western Avenue Community Center, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Y.W.C.A., Y.M.C.A., The Baby Fold, The Salvation Army and the Day Nursery, worked to address the pervasive poverty of that era.
During World War II, Community Chest combined with the War Chest to provide services to American service personnel as well as civilians here in McLean County. The first professional staff person was hired in 1940.
The 1950’s saw healthy increases in fund drives and a change in name from Community Chest to United Fund. The institution of payroll deduction during this decade had a significant impact on fundraising. Previously, campaigns had depended largely upon door-to-door solicitation.
United Fund became United Community Services in 1960 and made its final change of title to United Way of McLean County in 1973. From $57,000 raised during the first drive, subsequent campaigns reached $1 million in 1977, $2 million in 1989 and $3 million in 1998. In 2004, United Way of McLean Country raised over $4 million.
United Way of McLean County continues to evolve to meet the changing needs in our community. No longer just a fundraiser, United Way has become a Community Impact organization that is committed to making a tangible and meaningful difference in our community.
Today, United Way is working to advance the common good in McLean County by creating opportunities for a better life for everyone. We are focused on creating positive community change in the areas of education, income and health. By targeting these areas, we can ensure that children achieve their academic potential, families are financially stable, and people are healthy.