United Way of San Diego County Passion, expertise and resources

San diego worker assistance cover

For the past century, United Way of San Diego County has been a paradigm of support in the community. Their role as a community leader remained unchallenged over the years because of their unique position with both community and corporate partners. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation and college and career pathways, as well as family stability.

United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them by leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action. This year marks the organization’s 100th Anniversary of aligning with partners and leveraging resources to transform the lives of children, young adults and families.

United Way’s roots date back to 1920, when E.B. Gould Jr. first convened the Community Chest to raise money for the Community Welfare Council. That first campaign was run entirely by volunteers and raised $111,539 for 19 local agencies. That equates to a present value of $1,434,436.

Throughout the years, United Way has recruited people and organizations that bring the passion, expertise, and resources needed to create opportunities for a better life for all. Through the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, United Way of San Diego County evolved in its philanthropic and community impact approach, incubating what would become some of the most impactful entities in our community, including the San Diego INFO LINE (now 211 San Diego), The San Diego Foundation, Volunteer Bureau (now Volunteer San Diego) and LEAD San Diego.

Today, United Way’s new Community Impact model works to research and solve specific community issues by deploying proven, measurable strategies that operate under the umbrellas of education and family stability. Over the past 100 years, United Way has focused on the changing needs of the community it serves, assessing the most critical issues and establishing strategies to solve them. The current health crisis of COVID-19 is no different.

In response to the current global pandemic, celebrating its Centennial Year has taken a back seat to supporting our community members. In March, United Way swiftly launched the Worker Assistance Initiative for low-wage workers needing immediate support for utilities and rent/mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 crisis layoffs and decreased work hours. In these challenging times, United Way continues to be dedicated to helping low-income workers who need the most support.

The Worker Assistance Initiative is part of the greater San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund which was launched as a partnership among the County of San Diego, The San Diego Foundation, SDG&E, the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council, and United Way of San Diego County. This response fund was established to complement the work of public health officials and ensure funding for the basic needs of utility bills, food and rent/mortgage payments to prevent the need for San Diegans to enter the social services system of care and prevent homelessness as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Embarking on their Centennial Year, United Way is excited to show its gratitude to all the partners and donors that have supported their work throughout the years.


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Esteban Villanueva