United Way's History


In 1887, a Denver priest, a woman two ministers, and a rabbi recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems.

The Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put their heads together to plan the first united campaign for ten health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to organisations who could help, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred.  

That year, Denver raised $21,700 and created a movement that would spread throughout the country to become the United Way, and around the world to become United Way Worldwide. 

Celebrity supporters

Over the years, United Way has been fortunate enough to have a number of high profile supporters and partners. These include Bill Gates, George Clooney, Beyonce, Leonardo Di Caprio and even the Pope.