What We Do

Our Mission

Improving lives by uniting our community to address the basic needs, education, financial stability and health of every person.

Our Vision

Building Sangamon and Menard Counties into a vibrant region where individuals and families thrive, where people work together to protect its most vulnerable citizens, ensure a safe and healthy community, address its most challenging issues and enhance the quality of life for all citizens.

Core Strategies

United Way strengthens the community by:

  • mobilizing human and financial capital to improve community conditions
  • organizing collaborative solutions and making long-term investments in the areas of Health, Education and Financial Stability,
  • protecting services vital to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable members of the community
  • promoting volunteerism, philanthropy and advocacy
  • maintaining the highest standards of ethics, accountability and transparency

United Way of Central Illinois Diversity Statement

United Way of Central Illinois fosters and promotes an inclusive environment that leverages the unique contributions of diverse individuals and organizations so that we can collectively and effectively create opportunities for a better life for all.

We focus on promoting an inclusive environment, not just in employment, but in every aspect of our business, where everyone respects and values the contributions of all people. The different backgrounds, experiences, abilities and perspectives of our community strengthen the quality of our work and the success of our organizations.

Diversity and inclusion are at the heart of what it means to LIVE UNITED.

Find out more here.



November 1922 — The Chamber of Commerce felt that a Community Chest and a central body of health and welfare agencies were needed in the community.

March 1923 — The constitution of the newly formed Springfield Council of Social Agencies was passed. Mr. Robert C. Lanphier served as the Chair, and about $150,000 was raised.

1934 — The name was changed to Associated Welfare Agencies, with Fred Schrader serving as President and Robert Troxell serving as Campaign Chairman. Approximately $112,000 was raised during this year.

1939 — George A. Bengal, President, and George E. Day, Campaign Chairman, again reorganized and changed the name to The Springfield Community Chest. Another $150,000 was raised during this year.

United Way 1945 Poster

1942 — After additional reorganization, the name was changed to The War Fund Council. Leadership included Edward S. Perry serving as President and Leon E. Fisher serving as Campaign Chairman. $340,000 was raised under their leadership.

1946 — This year marked another time of reorganization and revamping for the organization, as its name was changed to The Community Chest of Springfield and Sangamon County. Van Courtney Crane, serving as President, and Thomas F. Paris, serving as Campaign Chairman, together raised $270,000.

1955 — George K. Blanchard, President, and James H. Patton, Campaign Chairman, decided to take a slightly different direction by including a larger territory and changing the name of the organization to United Community Services of Springfield and Sangamon County. During this year, $370,000 was raised.

1971 — This was the first campaign to raise over $1 million. Funds raised were approximately $1,026,000 under the leadership of John R. Chapin as President and John M. Bunn as Campaign Chairman.

original uw logo

1975 — United Community Funds joined 2,200 local United Ways around the country by becoming the United Way of Sangamon County. The organization was under the leadership of Halbert A. Schussele as President and William R. Schnirring as Campaign Chairman, and about $1,310,000 was raised during this year.

1980 — Howard C. Humphrey as President and Douglas S. Freyder as Campaign Chairman raised $1,850,000 during this year, and the organization’s name was changed to United Way of Sangamon County, Inc.

1981 — The campaign surpassed the 2 million dollar mark under the leadership of Paul F. Mahon, MD as President and Arthur F. Quem as Campaign Chairman.

1995 — The organization’s name was changed to the United Way of Central Illinois, Inc. to reflect the organization’s service throughout the region. During this year, Dr. Robert C. Hill was Chairman of the Board and Gary D. Neubauer was the Campaign Chairman. This campaign raised about $2,536,000.

1996 — Dr. Robert C. Hill was the President of the Board of Directors and Robert A. Stuart, Jr. was the Campaign Chair. $2,525,638 was raised during this year.

1997 — The United Way of Central Illinois implemented a 100% message, under which selected corporate gifts underwrote all expenses associated with the Community Fund. Volunteer leadership included Ronald L. Wanless as Board Chair and Richard D. Barclay as Campaign Chair. The campaigns raised $2,442,315 during this year.

2001 — Following the events of September 11, 2001, the United Way of Central Illinois raised $2,810,117, which was the most ever raised to that point. Volunteer leadership included Dr. Glen Cope as Board Chair and Gene and Elaine Wilkinson as Campaign Co-Chairs.

2006 — The campaign surpassed the 3 million dollar mark under the leadership of Harry Mitchell as Board Chair and Susan Wallace as Campaign Chair.

TODAY — United Way of Central Illinois is the largest private funder of health and human services in Sangamon and Menard Counties.

To learn about the history of United Way of America, click here.

Types of Funding

Visit OUR IMPACT for more information about the local services provided by United Way Funding from the Community Fund.

Paramount to the work at United Way is investing in our local health and human service programs. We do this by raising funds during our annual United Way campaign. When a donor makes a contribution to the Community Fund, 100% of that gift goes to support local program services. From this fund, we allocate over a million dollars each year to programs creating positive, long-lasting change in the lives of individuals and families. United Way is the largest private funder of health and human services in Sangamon County.

Funding decisions are made by knowledgeable volunteers from our community. They undergo training, participate in community conversations, review data, read program funding applications, score them, discuss them, interview program representatives and after well over 1,000 hours of work, make funding recommendations to United Way’s Community Impact Committee and Board of Directors for approval.

All funded programs are aligned with United Way’s priorities and strategies based upon our focus of:

protecting services vital to the immediate Basic Needs of the most vulnerable members of our community; while
making long term investments in Education, Financial Stability and Health, because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life

About the National Emergency Food and Shelter Program

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) dates back to March 24, 1983, when the "Jobs Stimulus Bill," also known as Public Law 98-8, was signed. The primary objective of EFSP is to enhance and broaden the efforts of local social service organizations, both nonprofit and governmental, in assisting individuals facing economic crises (excluding emergencies caused by disasters like fires, floods, tornadoes, etc.). EFSP funding is available to all organizations dedicated to aiding hungry and homeless individuals. The allocated funds must be utilized exclusively to supplement initiatives related to providing food, shelter (including transitional shelter), and assistance with rent/mortgage and utilities.

As a result of the aforementioned 1983 bill, a National Board was established, chaired by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This board included representatives from prominent organizations such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities USA, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, The Salvation Army, and United Way Worldwide.

Since its inception, the EFSP has disbursed more than $4.4 billion to over 14,000 human service agencies operating in over 2,500 communities across the United States.


National Emergency Food and Shelter Program in Sangamon and Menard Counties


United Way’s Venture Fund provides one-time funding for health and human service projects created to enhance the quality of life in Sangamon and Menard Counties. Eligible projects must be aligned with one or more of United Way’s funding areas, which are basic needs, education, financial stability and health. Projects must be administered by a non-profit organization with a 501(c)(3). Each year, 2% of the funds raised during United Way’s Annual Campaign are allocated to the Venture Fund.



Projects seeking venture funding are evaluated by a panel of volunteers responsible for developing a recommendation for United Way’s Board of Directors.

Venture Fund applications are accepted and funding decisions are made anytime during the calendar year. For more information regarding United Way’s Venture Fund, please contact the Director of Community Initiatives.

EFSP National Partners

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program began in 1983 with a $50 million federal appropriation. The program was created by Congress to help meet the needs of hungry and homeless people throughout the United States and its territories by allocating federal funds for the provision of food and shelter.

The program is governed by a National Board composed of representatives of the American Red Cross; Catholic Charities, USA; The Jewish Federations of North America; National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; The Salvation Army; and United Way Worldwide. The Board is chaired by a representative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

During its 40 years of operation, the program disbursed over $6.5 billion to over 14,000 local providers in more than 2,500 counties and cities.

United Way of Central Illinois serves as the convener of the local EFSP board.  Locally, the Emergency Food and Shelter Program has disbursed more than $1.3 million to local programs since 2000.

EFSP Guiding Principles are:

  • Efficiency—fiscal administration, reporting and procedural guidance to Local Boards and LROs
  • Accountability—good steward of taxpayers’ dollars through reasonable oversight and transparency
  • Responsiveness—prioritize the allocation of supplemental funds to the neediest areas in the nation
  • Partnership—promote and strengthen collaboration between non-profit organizations and public sector
  • Facilitating—maximizing appropriate local decision-making through clear guidance and training

Program funds are used to provide the following, as determined by the Local Board in funded jurisdictions:


  • Food, in the form of served meals or groceries.
  • Lodging in a mass shelter or hotel.
  • One month’s rent or mortgage payment.
  • One month’s utility bill.
  • Equipment necessary to feed or shelter people, up to a $300 limit per item.

When our jurisdiction is funded, the Local Board must advertise the availability of funds. Local organizations, whether nonprofit or governmental, may apply. The Local Board is responsible for considering all applications, and for determining which organizations will receive funds. The Local Board also determines which services are funded.

2023 UWW Membership Requirements