Fifty years ago, United Way of Central Minnesota’s founders formed an organization to fundraise for only a handful of organizations. At that time, St. Cloud only had a few nonprofits. The sole purpose of raising money for a select few organizations was the intent of United Way for the first 10-15 years. Many nonprofits in Central Minnesota can trace their roots to United Way funding. When the Boys and Girls Club got started, United Way funded the entire budget for the first few years.
Through the years, as needs changed United Way continued to evolve into an organization that helps collaborate and coordinate efforts throughout the community, and take on challenges that needed addressing by doing more than just raising money. In 1982, United Way started Volunteer Central, a place to help coordinate and promote volunteerism for the growing list of organizations in Central Minnesota. In the early 2000’s, United Way began Success By 6 to shine a light on the importance of child development from birth to kindergarten, and adopted 2-1-1, a resource number you can call if you need help. In 2006, the focus on the youngest learners led United Way to start the Imagination Library program. Over the last 11 years, United Way Imagination Library kids have read more than 1 million books and thousands of kids are better prepared for kindergarten.
United Way of Central Minnesota continues to evolve to address the needs in the community. Six years ago, after significant conversation with the community, United Way focused on five areas of greatest importance in our community: Early Learning, Quality Out of School Time, Access to Food, Homelessness, and Financial Stability.
Today, United Way of Central Minnesota continues to raise money and invest it wisely in programs across our region. However, there are also gaps that United Way must focus on for everyone to have a quality life. Because of this, United Way will be targeting some efforts in neighborhoods that need help the most. United Way will be piloting two Neighborhood Resource Centers that will fight for students living in poverty and help reduce barriers to their success in school in targeted neighborhoods.
United Way of Central Minnesota’s founders came together to Unite the community around a shared goal of fundraising. As an organization, United Way of Central Minnesota continues to Unite the community around shared goals for making the community a better place to live and work. United Way fights for those who need it the most through fundraising, targeted solutions and helping to address the challenges of today.