Advancing the Common Good in Chattanooga for 90 Years
United Way of Greater Chattanooga was founded 90 years ago in 1922, as part of a movement that, this year, is celebrating 125 years of improving lives and communities.
During these milestones, we celebrate those people and organizations -- past, present and future -- who continue to advance a movement to create opportunities for a better life for all. Thanks to you, it works for all of us!
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Recognizing their city welfare problems and the need for cooperative action, four Denver clergymen got together to work out a plan for the nonprofit organizations in their city and in 1887, the Charity Organization Society (COS) was launched. After more than two decades the COS movement had grown to the point where there was a need to organize a true charitable financial federation. The new organization was named the Community Chest, launched onMarch 1, 1913 inCleveland, Ohio. A total of 53 agencies joined within the first year.
In the summer of 1922, a group of businessmen and professionals led by Rev. H.H. Pitzer met to consider the idea of starting a Community Chest in Chattanooga. The first meeting of the executive committee took place September 11, 1922 . The purpose of the Community Chest was to "strengthen and make effective the spirit of human helpfulness inChattanooga, to give citizens the opportunity to help with human welfare, and to coordinate the work of benevolent and charitable institutions ofChattanooga."
Greater Chattanooga War Fund (1939-1946)
During World War II, shifting conditions on the homefront locally and nationally necessitated a change of the Community Chest's fundraising focus. For those years, Chattanoogans were encouraged to give "once for three fronts," with contributions not only going to shore up local agencies, but also supporting national organzations directly involved with the conflicts in Europe and Japan (like the Red Cross) and organizations that supported the troops and refugees on the front lines (like the USO and international relief organizations). The United War Fund was disbanded shortly following victories in Europe and Japan, allowing the organization to once again focus on needs in the Chattanooga community.
United Fund of Chattanooga (1957-1980)
In January of 1954, the United Fund movement began, the purpose of which was to help reign in the ever-increasing number of fund-raising drives occuring in communities across the country. A merger between the United Fund and Community Chest was accomplished 1957, with citizens in the community again encouraged to "give once for all".
United Way of Greater Chattanooga (1981-Present)
On March 12, 1981 the organization’s name was changed to United Way of Greater Chattanooga, to better align the organization with the national United Way movement. The name change also signaled a new direction for the organization, which began to move away from the traditional role as "just" a community fundraiser for various charitable organizations. In the 1990's, leaders of the organization further focused United Way of Greater Chattanooga as an organization concerned with "impacting" our community by supporting programs that help prevent problems and give people opportunities to become self-sufficient, while still supporting the most vulnerable.