The History of United Way


In Denver, religious leaders recognized the need for cooperative action to address their city’s welfare problems, and founded the Charity Organization Society of Denver, the forerunner to United Way, which served as an agent to collect funds for local charities, as well as to coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and make emergency assistance grants in cases which could not be referred.  That year, Denver created a movement that would spread throughout the country to eventually become United Way.  Nearly 125 years later, United Way is still focused on mobilizing the caring power of communities and making a difference in people’s lives.


First United Way campaign in Denver raised $21,700.


Charitable institutions became exempt from the first federal act that imposed a tax on all corporations organized for profit.


The nation's first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland, where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.


The Community Chest of Danville, Virginia was formed on May 22, 1922.  The audited campaign result for the first year of the Danville Community Chest was $75,225.50.


11 Member Organizations of the Danville Community Chest.


Name temporarily changed to Victory Fund.


Dan River Cotton Mills contributions made up over one-third of the campaign total of $104,119.


D.D. Buchanan ended 27-year run of service as Danville Community Chest Secretary.

Community Chest name changed to United Fund.


Danville United Fund hired its first full-time Executive Director, Charles Colwell.


Dr. Charles Schollenberger became the United Funds second Executive Director, but tragically passed away in 1965.


Fred Evans began a 32-year run as Executive Director.


United Way Campaign achieved its first-ever million-dollar campaign.


Upon Fred Evans' retirement, William (BILL) Kantz became Executive Director.


Patrick Jinks became Executive Director (now President/CEO) of United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County.

United Way, both nationally and locally, began a movement to shift its business model to a community impact model, addressing community-wide needs in addition to individual agency and program needs.


20 leading community organizations and institutions endorse the "New United Way" model.


20 focus groups conducted community-wide to determine work under the community impact model.  First Community Impact Agenda was completed.

2005 - 2010:

United Way work was now well beyond agency funding.  Numerous collaborative initiatives were formed, including the Dan River Center for Voluntarism, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Born Learning, The BEST Initiative, Smart Beginnings DPC, and the Neighborhood Leadership Institute.


United Way moved to its own new building, downtown in the Historic Tobacco Warehouse District.


United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County and the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation announced a $5.4 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation to advance Smart Beginnings and its school readiness initiative.


30+ year United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County employee, Jean Walker, retired and June Walters assumes the role as Finance Director.  Philip Haley became President/CEO.


United Way meets campaign goal of $700,000 for the first time in 8 years.


United Way Board of Directors voted to open allocations to any agency that meets the funding criteria and the first Virginia ALICE report is released.


Jennifer W. Smith became President/CEO.