We measure our success in lives changed. In 2017, we served 61 million people across the globe. From improving the quality of early education in Kentucky, to helping families put food on the table in Milwaukee, to getting students healthier in India, we didn’t back away from the toughest challenges. We did it by forging unlikely partnerships, finding new solutions to old problems and mobilizing the best resources. These stories are testament to the impact communities can make when we come together and LIVE UNITED.
A Letter From Leadership
While 2017 was a tumultuous year in many ways, around the world individuals and institutions stepped up to help people take on tough problems. And through it all, United Way was there—fighting for every person in every community.
You can point to the future of philanthropy and community-building in one stark example from 2017: the Cajun Navy. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in August, flooding towns across the southern and eastern parts of the state, people’s homes and lives disappeared underwater. Volunteer organizations, including United Way, raced to the rescue. We were joined by men and women from nearby Louisiana, many of whom arrived with their boats to assist search-and-rescue efforts.
“I was young during Hurricane Katrina, and I know how it feels to lose everything,” Jordy Bloodsworth, a Baton Rouge resident, told The Washington Post. “So, being able to help others going through this situation that I have experienced, there’s no way—no way—I could pass up helping.”
Pitching in to help neighbors, whether they live one street, one state or one country away, is critical to building stronger communities. While 2017 was a tumultuous year in many ways, around the world individuals and institutions stepped up to help people take on tough problems. And through it all, United Way was there, fighting for every person in every community—from hurricanes in the United States to floods in India.
In the past, building a stronger community depended upon institutions leading the way. If a community lacked affordable housing, for example, government, nonprofits and local business would work together to ensure it. This model, of which United Way is a champion, will always be integral to solving community problems. But the world is getting bigger and more connected, and the balance of power in philanthropic circles is shifting to take individuals’ agendas and preferences into greater account. Institutions remain powerful, but individuals are growing in influence. United Way must lead the way to serve both.
Due to changing forces in technology and increased globalization, people today possess greater knowledge and power—and they increasingly demand that their leaders act. If leaders don’t, individuals will move forward themselves.
Hurricane Harvey is a great example of that. While local authorities in Texas were looking for people who could help navigate the floodwaters, the Cajun Navy responded immediately. They pulled hundreds of people from the water and helped them begin rebuilding their lives.
Moving forward, solutions to our greatest challenges will be realized when individuals and institutions work together. Organizations like United Way must give people platforms to connect, advocate and act, just like the Cajun Navy did in Texas. We are boldly and proudly pursuing this vision to ensure more people are empowered to make a difference by bringing our resources to bear whenever and wherever they are needed.
This annual report highlights those people and resources. From San Francisco to Shanghai, we recognize those who stepped up in 2017 to positively impact communities and lives. None of what we accomplished this year would have been possible without our many donors, partners, volunteers and advocates, and we’re immensely thankful for their support. Improving our society will take collaboration. It will take innovation. And it will be driven by people who are empowered and prepared to strengthen their communities. We look forward to the challenge.
United we fight. United we win.
Our Worldwide Network
For almost 130 years, United Way has been a unifying force that brings together community leaders, organized labor, faith-based groups, corporations, nonprofit organizations and governments. Together, we create sweeping change that benefits entire communities, in your backyard and around the world.
Impact by the Numbers
United Way serves 61 million people each year, and is engaged in nearly 1,800 communities across 40+ countries and territories.
Childhood Success$255,777,295 invested
1,644,745children enrolled in high-quality early childhood programs
77%of children are academically proficient by end of kindergarten
607,008children received literacy support
Youth Success$215,263,854 invested
90%of youth graduated high school on time
2,482,042youth participated in out-of-school time programs and/or received individualized support
82%of youth earned passing grades in core subjects
Economic Mobility$228,213,898 invested
1,372,535individuals accessed affordable housing, financial products, and services
468,054individuals received job skills training
64%of individuals increased their wages
Access to Health$249,310,113 invested
3,565,353individuals participated in physical activity and/or healthy food access/nutrition programs
77%of youth/adults avoided or reduced risky behaviors
97,752of babies had healthy birth outcomes (e.g. reach full term, first birthday and healthy weight)
United We Fight
Every day, and in all corners of the world, communities struggle with obstacles that are difficult to face and too hard to ignore. Illiteracy. Homelessness. Addiction. Local issues that require local solutions.
But there is hope. There’s United Way. We are the problem solvers, the hand raisers, the game changers. We surround a community’s most critical problems—and we fight.
In a matter of months, life changed for millions. From Houston to Haiti, the Caribbean to California, people were bound by shared grief. Pitching in to help neighbors, whether they live one street or one country away, is critical to building strong communities. Read more
A Future without Human Trafficking
United Against Substance Abuse
Now more than ever, people need help and hope. United Way offers both through its programs and services, while connecting communities with critical resources and delivering solutions at scale. We are a global vehicle for volunteers, donors and advocates who seek to change lives and strengthen communities through service, collaboration and impact.
We’re fighting to ensure that every person, in every community, has the resources and opportunities they need to build a stronger financial foundation for themselves and their families.
When it comes to accessing health services, a person’s zip code should never be a barrier to improved health. Yet for many, that’s a daily reality. Read more
Making a Mark
At United Way, we mobilize the caring power of communities and work with partners to create permanent and positive change. From helping military veterans get back on their feet and nurturing character development in the classroom, to recognizing local heroes who are making a mark, we are strengthening communities from the inside out.
Through our programs, products and services, we are making a mark on communities around the world and the lives of those who live there. Read more
Partnering to Build Career Pathways
Character Development through a Digital Lens
Leading the Charge
We’re galvanizing people to fight for policies, programs and funding that improve education, financial stability and health for individuals and communities. But we can’t do it alone—change doesn’t happen without you.
The whole community benefits when working people can turn their financial tightrope into a stable pathway to success. Read more
MAKING WAVES WITH WOMEN UNITED
YOUTH LEADERSHIP IN ACTION
Every day, we strive to create permanent and positive change in communities around the world—but we can’t do it alone. Thanks to the generous support of our volunteers, donors, partners, philanthropic leaders and other influencers, we are able to give back so that others can get ahead.
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS
For 130 years, United Way has been partnering with companies across the globe to help them realize their employee-engagement efforts and achieve their social responsibility goals. We help companies change the lives and communities of their employees every day. Read a few impact stories.
United Way proudly recognizes the extraordinary generosity of this philanthropic leader. Read more
WHEN PASSION MEETS PURPOSE
Every so often, an individual comes and revolutionizes philanthropy; a leader whose passion and vision creates positive and permanent change. We are honored to recognize the enduring contributions of Dr. Thomas “Tommy” F. Frist, Jr., founder of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society, a vehicle for community transformation that has generated more than $10 billion to date.
A former chairman of the United Way of America Board of Governors, Tommy has long been an advocate of service and the common good. His vision to create a society of philanthropic community leaders who unite and address the needs of the most vulnerable was realized in 1981 when he launched the Tocqueville Society as Campaign Chair of United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. Seeing the need to make a mark beyond his hometown—and to bridge a giving gap—Tommy spent the next few years inspiring peers to give at a level that was consistent with their means.
Before long, Tommy had established a Tocqueville presence in six more cities, and in 1985, oversaw its inception in United Way of America. Today, the exclusive society boasts 25,000+ members in 400+ societies around the world, and is one of the premier destinations for individual philanthropy. Under Tommy’s leadership, the Tocqueville Society has become a multi- generational movement that encourages individual giving, one through which people can build their own legacy.
Since its founding, the Tocqueville Society has improved countless lives and strengthened hundreds of communities. None of this would have been possible without Tommy’s unwavering vision. As the first recipient of the United Way Lifetime Achievement Award, and a member of the $10 Million Dollar Roundtable, Tommy and his wife, Trish, have contributed generously to the endowments of United Way Worldwide and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, resulting in years of organizational excellence.
As we recognize Tommy’s contributions, we also acknowledge the 50th anniversary of HCA Healthcare, a company he founded with his father, Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Sr., and Jack C. Massey. Tommy’s leadership is reflected in HCA’s corporate culture of giving, which has more Tocqueville Society members—133 and counting—than any other company in Nashville. Tommy is also the founding director, and currently the chairman, of The Frist Foundation, which supports organizations that are involved in arts and culture, youth leadership training, community development and civic affairs.
Tommy’s leadership remains a benchmark in philanthropy, and its catalytic effect will be felt for years to come. His considerable work with the Tocqueville Society, board leadership, personal contributions and advocacy has vastly strengthened United Way, while increasing the value of, and possibilities for, giving in communities everywhere. Thank you, Tommy, for raising the philanthropy bar.
United Way USA Board of Trustees
The United Way USA Board of Trustees is charged with providing oversight on matters related to—and specific to—the network of United Ways in the United States. Its responsibilities include U.S. membership issues, public policy, community impact, resource development and U.S. Board development.
CHAIR OF THE BOARD
James Bullard President and CEO
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis