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United Way of Erie

Overview

United Way of Erie County is a local social impact organization focused on breaking the cycle of poverty in our region. We know that education is the key to ending poverty. When kids are well-fed, well-rested, and getting the support they need, they are far more likely to succeed in school and therefore in life.

That’s why we’re on a mission to remove barriers to learning and to ensure families have the stability to achieve financial growth. For every dollar raised, 99 cents stays in Erie County. Won’t you join us?

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 - to break the cycle of poverty and expand opportunities for people to become self-sufficient.

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THEN

For more than 100 years, United Way of Erie County operated in what is often referred to as a “transaction” based model. That is, we raised monies from the community and allocated it to a relatively small number of programs run by partner organizations. Organizations helping a group over here, a family over there, an individual somewhere else, not connected or strategic. Good things were done, but isolated from each other and not sustainable. Think of it as a band-aid approach to addressing social problems.

NOW

Today, United Way of Erie County is a social impact organization, leading Erie County’s work to break the cycle of poverty by leveraging the collective impact framework, developed by Harvard University and FSG, a global social change consulting firm. A collective impact is a structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organizations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change - at scale. And, make no mistake, breaking the cycle of poverty is a complex social challenge. When someone gives to United Way here in Erie, they are investing in lasting change that will improve lives not only now but for future generations.

The thinner you are spread, the less effective you will be.

  • Our Mission and Our Vision
  • A Message to The Erie Community
  • History

United Way of Erie Timeline

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.
1983:
Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Erie County formed and the first Alex de Tocqueville Society Award 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. Formerly the home of AAA, this new location provides additional meeting space and parking that enhances United Way’s ability to work as a convener.
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 announces a bold, long-term vision to help reduce the number of families struggling to meet their basic needs by one-third by 2025.
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.
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 2-1-1 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.