United Way, originally known as the Charity Organization Society, was started in 1887 by a priest and a rabbi. Their goal was to conduct a combined fund raising campaign to support ten agencies in Denver, Colorado. Their first campaign raised $21,700. Around 1942 the communities of Staunton and Waynesboro founded United Way organizations. As services begin to overlap, these separate organizations saw an opportunity to become more effective in their community service; and in January, 2004 the two United Ways merged to become the United Way of Greater Augusta, Inc.
United Way organizations are unique for many reasons. They accept the role of identifying community issues and needs, finding creative ways of addressing those needs and following through on the solutions. They partner with agencies, through existing programs, developing new programs, funding programs, measuring outcomes and holding themselves and their agencies accountable. The work is done through staff and volunteers.
Each year, the United Way of Greater Augusta, Inc. conducts a major fundraising campaign. The majority of the campaign is conducted in the workplace where donors are given a payroll deduction option thus making an investment in our community easy. United Way staff, company and community volunteers work very hard conducting the campaign.
Once the campaign is completed, the funding allocation process begins. Agency applications are evaluated, considering the need for the services, the fiscal viability of the agency, the need for United Way funding, and the outcome of the services provided by the agency. Recommendations for funding are made to the Board of Director’s. Funds are then allocated and monthly distributions are handled by the United Way staff.
At this time, there are nearly 116,960 people living in Staunton, Waynesboro and Augusta County. Approximately 16% have less than a high school education, 20% live below poverty, 18% are disabled and 15% are medically uninsured. So, the need is great.
Your United Way worked with other community organizations in the development of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition. Through this program, our area's teen pregnancy rate dropped from one of the highest in the country of 46.4 pregnancies per 1000 females in 1997 to 29.6 per 1000 in 2007. While reduction is occurring, there is still a long way to go to get this number issue under better control.
Just as the Valley's economic, social and philanthropic landscape has evolved, so has the work of United Way. Along with our partners and volunteers, we continuously assess the needs of the community and respond with both long-term and short-term plans that are focused on getting sustainable results in areas that matter most to the Greater Augusta region. Today, United Way continues its rich legacy of impacting the local community by advancing the common good by focusing on making a measurable difference on the building blocks of a good life: Education, Income and Health.
In partnership with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, the faith-based community, local and state governments, educational institutions and individuals, United Way remains committed to its mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of people in our community. We continue to make wise investments of resources to address the most important issues facing our community and provide accountability for gifts made by our donors. United Way's new direction to advance the common good allows us to build on our traditional roles and assume a stronger role in convening and collaborating with other stakeholders to address root causes, not just the symptoms of problems as recommended by our donors and partners.
In 2020 the United Way of Greater Augusta became the United Way of Staunton, Augusta County & Waynesboro to help more clearly define the areas that are served by our United Way.