United Way Starts 100th Anniversary with Record Fundraising Total

United Way of Erie County Celebrates Start of 100th Anniversary

Announces largest fundraising year ever and $100,000 challenge match for the 100th annual campaign

ERIE, PA (May 16, 2014) - United Way of Erie County today announced the largest fundraising year in its history, raising over $6.7 million to help reduce poverty. The announcement came at United Way’s 2014 Annual Meeting, where the organization began a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary. More than three hundred of Erie County’s community leaders and philanthropists were in attendance as United Way held the breakfast meeting at the Bayfront Convention Center.

“Money alone cannot solve our community’s problems, but make no mistake: it takes money to get things done,” said Bill Jackson, president of United Way of Erie County. “Our fundraising success is a tribute to the generosity of the individuals and business in our community. The community is clearly responding to our goal to help more families become self-sufficient by 2025, and their support will help us make that vision a reality.”

United Way officials announced the fundraising total in a new format this year. “In addition to the annual campaign, United Way today attracts additional resources in the form of grants, sponsorships and its endowment fund earnings,” said Marlene Mosco, regional president of PNC and chair of United Way’s 2013 Campaign. “The ‘Total Community Support’ of more than $6.7 million represents the total financial resources United Way has mobilized to aid its work to improve lives in Erie County.”

Also at the meeting, guests were given a first glimpse at plans for United Way of Erie County’s 100th Annual Campaign later this year. Terry Cavanaugh, President & CEO of Erie Insurance and United Way’s incoming campaign chair, announced that Erie Insurance will offer a $100,000 challenge match during the 2014-15 Campaign to incentivize new donors to start giving to United Way. All new gifts made to the upcoming campaign will be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $100,000.

United Way of Erie County was originally formed in 1914, when half of the 22 social service organizations in Erie County united to form the Erie Social Service Federation. The first annual community campaign was conducted in 1915. Since then, the organization has been known by a variety of names, including the Community Chest, Community and War Chest, United Fund, United Community Services and, beginning in 1974, United Way of Erie County.

“Throughout the last century, our organization has brought the community together to confront the most important issues facing Erie County,” said R.J. Zonna, senior vice president for United Way of Erie County. “As we commemorate our 100th anniversary this year, we are focused on continuing that mission by mobilizing the entire region to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency.

During the annual meeting, United Way also provided updates on some of its key community building initiatives. Since United Way launched the Imagination Library at its 2013 Annual Meeting, more than 8,400 Erie County children under the age of five have signed up to receive a free book mailed to their homes each month. Today, roughly 43% of all eligible children in Erie County are participating in the program, designed to increase literacy rates and prepare more local children to enter kindergarten.

United Way also announced that the FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card has already been used by more than 1,400 local individuals to save more than $140,000 on their prescription drugs. The FamilyWize card is free and available to everyone in Erie County. It helps the underinsured and uninsured saved money on their prescription drugs.

About United Way of Erie County:
United Way is a leader in reducing poverty in Erie County by creating opportunities in the building blocks for good life: Education, Income and Health. United Way is directing its resources to reduce poverty in Erie County by 2025. Additional information about United Way of Erie County and its programs and initiatives can be found at UnitedWayErie.org.

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