In Denver, Colorado 1887, religious leaders founded the Charity Organization Society, the first United Way organization that planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fundraising campaign for 22 agencies. The first fundraising campaign raised $21,700.
In 1913, the nation's first Community Chest was born in Cleveland, Ohio. There, a program for allocating funds was developed. The name Community Chest was widely used for United Way organizations until the 1950's.
Between 1919 and 1948, the number of Community Chests grew from 39 to over 1,000. Today there are over 1,300 local United Ways in communities across the country.
Here in Kenosha County
In 1923, eight agencies in Kenosha County joined together to form the Community Chest to campaign once a year for funds for all. Those agencies were St. Catherine's Hospital, Kenosha Memorial Hospital, Salvation Army, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, American Legion, Carmelite Sisters and Kenosha Service Leagues.
In its first 95 years in operation, United Way of Kenosha County was called by many names including Community Chest and United Funds. There were dozens of other names as well.
During the war years of the 40’s, we experience an increase in health agencies and many other appeals - The name of the Community chest was changed to War Fund and remained so during the duration of World War II. After the war, the War Fund was dissolved and the name changed to Kenosha Community Fund and it remained so until 1959 when this organization was dissolved in favor of a United Fund encompassing all of Kenosha County.
The name changed once again in 1973, when the board of directors sought to broaden the scope of the mission and align with the national United Way movement. They had decided that United Way had outgrown its service station role and had become an instrument by which local United Ways could begin to function as a national force. The board adopted the name United Way of Kenosha County (UWKC), which is our organization’s name today, and adopts the United Way national logo.
In 2018, UWKC is celebrating 95 years of service to Kenosha County's residents, families, communites, and organizations.
With the dedication of volunteers, donors and community leaders, United Way of Kenosha County has played many roles throughout the decards. From a fundraiser to a collaborator to a community impact leader. United Way will continue to evolve and grow, and it will continue to focus on advancing the common good and creating opportunities for a better life for all.
Now more than ever, we are working to help our community LIVE UNITED.