Mission, Values, History

OUR MISSION: United Way of Greater St. Louis mobilizes the community with one goal in mind — helping people live their best possible lives.

United Way:
  • efficiently raises and allocates funds to support a strong network of quality agencies and services;
  • provides information, management and technical resources;
  • identifies critical issues and unmet needs; and
  • builds collaborations with the public and private sectors to meet those needs.


Core Values

United Way of Greater St. Louis is the place where people of our community come together in the spirit of teamwork and servant leadership to share our responsibility to care for one another.

As excellent stewards of financial and human resources entrusted to us, United Way of Greater St. Louis ensures that those resources are effectively developed and properly invested to achieve optimum impact in the community.

We are an integral part of this community’s leadership; we conduct ourselves with the highest regard for trust, fairness, ethics and respect for one another.

Volunteers are our foundation and most valuable resource. We were founded by volunteers and are a volunteer-directed organization.

We take responsibility for directing and managing this organization and in partnership with our agencies, we meet our community’s critical human service needs.

United Way of Greater St. Louis values and is committed to the richness of diversity in all aspects of our organization and those with whom we partner and serve.

We are a catalyst for change, creating awareness of needs and celebrating successes in caring for one another and in creating a more compassionate community.

Our History

United Way was formed in 1887 when a Denver priest, two ministers and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems. The first campaign raised $21,700 for 22 agencies.

United Way of Greater St. Louis began in 1922 as the Community Fund, organized by volunteers to raise money to help operate 40 charities.

By the 1950s, more than 1,000 communities across the United States and Canada had established United Ways. In 1974, United Ways raised nearly $1.04 billion, marking the first time in history that a single organization raised more than $1 billion in an annual campaign. Over its long history, United Way has helped with everything from the Persian Gulf War to the Olympic torch relay to the President’s Summit for America’s Future. It’s won awards, such as the Charity of Choice from Financial World magazine. Across the country, United Ways now raise more than $4 billion annually.

Today, the United Way of Greater St. Louis helps one in three people in the St. Louis region annually. Through United Way’s local partnership with more than 170 nonprofit agencies, as well as programs and services such as United Way 2-1-1, STLVolunteer, and others, more than one million people are served by United Way each year.