United Way of Erie County is a local social impact organization focused on breaking the cycle of poverty in our region. We envision a collaborative community where all students succeed and all families thrive. That's LIVING UNITED.

For every dollar raised, 99 cents stays in Erie County.

Join Us to Crush Poverty

United Way of Erie County has evolved from its roots as a fundraising organization to a critical community impact organization mobilizing local partners - including businesses, community leaders and community residents. United Way is investing in leveling the playing field for low-income students and their families who face barriers to success. Simply put, breaking the cycle of poverty means breaking down these barriers. We believe all children should have equal opportunity to receive a quality education! 

Mission: United Way of Erie County mobilizes resources to break the cycle of poverty and improve our community.

Vision: The Erie region is a collaborative community of opportunity where ALL students succeed and ALL families thrive.


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United Way's key initiatives include:

IMAGINATION LIBRARY = providing FREE high-quality, age and developmentally appropriate books monthly to children from birth to their fifth birthday so children enter kindergarten with early literacy skills ready to learn

COMMUNITY SCHOOLS = stripping away non-academic barriers to learning that low-income children face, from basic needs to trauma counseling to dental/vision health supports and much more so they can focus and engage in the classroom

MY FREE TAXES = helping hard working low-to moderate income families get free tax preparation and take advantage of the earned income tax credit to get financially stable. United Way provides MyFreeTaxes® to help people easily and accurately file their own federal and state taxes for free and you are able to file from the comfort and privacy of your own home!  

211 HELPLINE = connecting individuals and families to the help they need when they need it so that the home environment is stable and supported

OTHER STRATEGIC INVESTMENTS = responding in times of emergencies and to priority community needs

United Way of Erie Timeline

  • 1914:

    Half of the local social service agencies in Erie County unite to form the Erie Social Service Federation.

  • 1919:

    Erie Social Service Federation has 22 members and changes its name to the "Community Chest of Erie County."

  • 1928:

    Edward Doll, president of the Community Chest, activates “fair share” giving at Lovell Manufacturing, encouraging workers to donate the equivalent of one hour’s pay each month.

  • 1942 - 1946 :

    Several war-related agencies joined the Community Chest during World War II, leading it to temporarily become known as the “Community and War Chest.”

  • 1952:

    Erie joins the national AFL-CIO/UW partnership with the hiring of the first Community Service Liaison, Alton Ross.

  • 1956:

    The United Fund was established by 33 members of the Community Chest.

  • 1970:

    The United Fund merged with Community Services Planning Council and became United Community Services of Erie County.

  • 1974:

    The organization officially becomes United Way of Erie County.

  • 1982:

    United Way begins implementing a new priorities system to allocate funding based on the most pressing needs in the community each year.

  • 1983:

    Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Erie County formed and the first Alex de Tocqueville Society Award is presented to Edward C. Doll.

  • 1997:

    United Way of Erie County Endowment Fund established with anonymous $1 million donation.

  • 2004:

    Young Leaders Club formed to promote philanthropy, volunteerism and involvement among emerging leaders in Erie County.

  • 2006:

    United Way moves to a new building located at 420 West 6th Street.

  • 2010:

    United Way begins operation of Erie FREE Taxes, the local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, providing free tax preparation for hard-working low to moderate wage earners.

  • 2012:

    United Way starts their transition from transactional organization to social impact organization, focusing on poverty.

  • 2013:

    United Way launches the Imagination Library, a game-changing program designed to increase literacy rates and prepare more children to enter kindergarten. All children in Erie County under the age of five are eligible to sign up and get a free book mailed to their homes each month. United Way introduces FamilyWize® Prescription Drug Discount Card to Erie County residents.

  • 2014:

    United Way has served the Erie County community for 100 Years.

  • 2015:

    United Way launches their strategic plan, shifting focus to the root causes of poverty.

  • 2016:

    United Way joins with Erie's Public Schools to bring the Community School model to five pilot schools in the City of Erie.

  • 2017:

    United Way launches 211 Helpline information and referral services across Erie County, connecting people in need to the right nonprofits with programs to assist them.

  • 2018:

    United Way expands the Community School model countywide to include Girard and Iroquois school districts. United Way becomes a Campaign for Grade-Level Reading community, launching the local initiative known as Raising Readers.

  • 2019:

    United Way expands Community School model to include three additional schools (Diehl, Harding and Perry Elementary Schools) in the City of Erie.

  • 2020:

    FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card transitions to SingleCare. United Way's Community School initiative is recognized by the US Department of Education through Full Service Community School Grant Program - Removing Barriers to Learning Through Case Management in Erie's Community Schools. This marks the largest grant in United Way's history.

  • 2021:

    United Way launches the Community School model at Union City Elementary in the Union City School District. United Way establishes Women United affinity group to partly fund Union City Elementary. United Way completes transition from former transaction model to social impact organization, focusing on student success and family stability.

  • 2022:

    United Way launches community schools at Grover Cleveland, Jefferson, JoAnna Connell and Lincoln Elementary Schools and Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Erie's Public Schools.