Our History

First United Campaign

The first United Way organization was formed in 1887 in Denver by four clergymen: Rev. Myron W. Reed, Monsignor William J. O’Ryan, Dean H Martyn Hart, and Rabbi William S Friedman who recognized the need for cooperative action to solve the city’s welfare problems. The Charity Organization of Society was the first united campaign to coordinate services and fundraising for a group of charitable organizations.

First Modern Community Chest Formed

The nation’s first modern Community Chest was formed in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

War Chests Rise in Popularity

During the World War I era, War Chests were formed to provide relief for the armed forces and their families, as well as refugees in Europe. This idea would become the inspiration for the local community giving.

Community Chest of Greater New Haven Formed

Monopoly Game Draws on United Way History

Dan Laycock of Reading, PA adds Community Chest to his version of The Finance Game. The game was purchased by Hasbro in 1935 and renamed Monopoly.

Payroll Deductions Start

Community leaders realized an easy way for people to give back was through their paychecks. This was the first of the payroll deduction program that continues today. Formal relationships with unions, companies, and government begin during this period.

The Red Feather Symbol

The Red Feather was adopted as the national symbol of the 1949 Community Chest campaign. It represented each individual’s contribution to health and welfare assistance in the community.

“United Way” Adopted as the Official Name Nationally

Two Become One for the Better of the Community

United Fund of Greater New Haven and the Community Council of Greater New Haven are consolidated to form United Way of Greater New Haven.

United Way Logo Unveiled

The United Way logo, representing the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow symbolizing hope, was created by Saul Bass, a prominent graphic designer.

NFL Partnership Formed

The National Football League (NFL) and United Way established a partnership to increase public awareness of social service issues facing the country. In addition to public service announcements, NFL players supported their local United Ways through personal appearances, special programs, and sitting on United Way governing boards.

United Way International Formed

United Way International was formed to organize and streamline United Way efforts around the world.

United Way 211 Launched

In 1973, when Charles Newton Schenck, III was United Way of Greater New Haven’s Board President, he learned of a system offered by a few United Way communities around the country. 2-1-1 provided free help over the phone – a single source for information about community services, referrals, and crisis intervention. He worked tirelessly to bring this system to Connecticut. In 1976, Infoline was created as a public and private partnership between United Way and the State of Connecticut. Connecticut was the first state in the nation to provide this service statewide.

Leadership Circle Formed

United Way of Greater New Haven established the “Leadership Circle” to recognize individuals or couples who make a contribution between $1,000 and $9,999.


United Way recognizes its centennial by saluting the American volunteer through many programs, including the dedication of a United Way postage stamp.

Olympic Community Heroes

The Atlanta Committee for Olympic Games chooses United Way to coordinate the “Community Heroes” runners for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay. William T. O’Brian Jr., was chosen as a Community Hero Torchbearer for the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay New Haven leg.

Greater New Haven Alexis de Tocqueville Society Formed

Michael McHugh and Hebert H. Pearce established the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Greater New Haven. Calling it “a program that was good for the United Way and therefore good for Greater New Haven,” they set a goal of getting five people to commit to joining the society in its first year. Thanks to their incredible efforts, the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of Greater New Haven was launched with 10 members in 1997.

First Million Dollar Campaign

Yale University becomes United Way of Greater New Haven’s first million dollar workplace campaign.


In response to the recession, Neighbor-to-Neighbor LifeLine was created by United Way of Greater New Haven and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven to get quick, effective assistance with housing costs and healthy food to people in need.

United Way Worldwide Formed

United Way International and United Way of America came together to create United Way Worldwide, the largest privately-funded nonprofit in the World, with more than 1,800 United Ways in 41 countries and territories.


New Haven Trauma Coalition Formed

United Way of Greater New Haven and our partners lobbied state lawmakers to increase funding for trauma-informed care in schools following the tragedy at Sandy Hook. United Way’s continuing role is bring partners into eight New Haven schools to help kids connect with each other and caring adults. These programs help students unwind, make friends, and build confidence and resilience.

100 Day Challenge

United Way played a leading role in the 100-Day Challenge to End Homelessness in Greater New Haven: an effort to bring all the homlessness-serving organizations in our region together to find housing for 75 percent of the chronically homeless individuals.

Ended Veteran Homelessness

Connecticut was the first state in the country to house all homeless veterans. In our region, United Way of Greater New Haven led this effort.


Ended Chronic Homelessness

Greater New Haven matched every chronically homeless person to stable housing through the Coordinated Access Network.