Founded in 1920 under the name Community Chest of Greater New Haven, the organization changed its name to the United Fund of Greater New Haven in 1951 and, in 1971, adopted the name United Way of Greater New Haven after a merger of the United Fund and Community Council. Regardless of its name, throughout its history, the organization has always served the needs of the times, from providing funds for unemployment during the Great Depression to supporting the war effort during the 1940s and 1960s to promoting an investment in young children in the early 2000s.
Throughout our history, United Way of Greater New Haven has been meeting the needs of the community – with a focus on health, education and financial stability. We accomplish this by bringing people and organizations together to help their neighbors – both by addressing people’s immediate needs today, while also working to create lasting solutions that offer hope for tomorrow.
At the core of United Way – and the reason for our success and longevity – has been the belief that we are stronger together. If we work in a “united way,” we can accomplish so much more than we can on our own.
More Than a Monopoly Space
UWGNH was founded in 1920 as the New Haven Community Chest. The organization brought community members together “to provide relief to vulnerable populations.”
Did You Know We Had Our Own Songs
In old New Haven, at this time of year, we’re saving money to bring people cheer. Give ‘till it hurts, help folks to live, so have a heart to do your part and give!” - Community Chest Song, written in 1930
Responding to the Depression
Concerned with the effects of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Community Chest focused its efforts on providing funds for unemployment relief agencies, while continuing to support “indispensable services” such as hospitals, child welfare, and crime prevention.
Helping on the Homefront
The New Haven Community Chest helped meet the needs of the war effort in the 1940s by supporting troops abroad and helping local families.
In the 1950s, unions started payroll deduction as a way to make charitable giving to the United Fund/Community Chest charities easier, greatly scaling impact, and continuing to this day. Check out our current Champions Circle supporters here.
Collaboration is in our DNA
In 1971, United Fund of Greater New Haven (formerly the Community Chest) and the Community Council of Greater New Haven consolidate to form the United Way of Greater New Haven.
Identifying Priority Needs
In 2002, United Way brought together 40 organizations to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment, called Community Compass. The assessment identified disparities in education and economic opportunities across our region as the two areas of greatest need, spurring United Way to focus on these key issues across all its work.
Helping Our Youngest Residents Thrive
UWGNH launched Success By 6™ in 2003 to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood development based on the newest brain research. Since then, tens of thousands of young children in greater New Haven have benefited from United Way’s advocacy, funding, and leadership around early childhood.
In 2014, United Way played a leading role in the 100-Day Challenge to End Homelessness in Greater New Haven, an effort to bring the homeless-serving organizations in our region together to find housing for chronically homeless individuals. This led to the creation of the Greater New Haven Coordinated Access Network (CAN), for which United Way serves as the backbone. The CAN has housed thousands of individuals and families in our region since its inception.
Breaking Records by Doing Good
As part of its effort to end hunger, UWGNH broke a record in 2019 during its annual Day of Caring by packing and donating 37,500 meals, the largest number completed in a single day in the city of New Haven. This effort wouldn’t have been possible without the 100+ volunteers who helped that day. UWGNH recruits and places thousands of volunteers every year to help the community. Find out how you can volunteer.
Let’s Work Together On What’s Next
Starting today we can respond with hope, with possibility, with action. We can speak up, raise our hands, give back. Starting today we can rebuild our communities so they are better, more equitable, more resilient. And we can reimagine a tomorrow that is better than yesterday. But a new tomorrow can’t be reached alone. Help us celebrate 100 years of impact by making a donation to honor our shared legacy and support a more equitable future and keeping connected to learn more about how you can help us make the next 100 years a success!