Who We Are - United Ways of California

Across California and around the world, United Way mobilizes the caring power of communities to improve health, education, and financial stability for every person in every community.

United Ways of California’s mission is to improve health, education and financial results for low-income children and families by enhancing and coordinating the community impact and advocacy work of California‚Äôs United Ways.

What We Do

Throughout California, local United Ways fight to ensure that every family has the tools and resources they need to lead successful lives, by focusing on three priority areas:

Education Outcomes

Financial Empowerment

Health Equity

How We Do This

Engaging the Public for the Common Good

United Ways of California advances the health, education, and financial sustainability goals of local United Ways through education and advocacy. As a nonpartisan organisation, we believe the involvement of all sectors – business, nonprofit, philanthropy, government and an engaged citizenry – are required to make progress on vital challenges facing low-income children and families. We see our role as bringing diverse (and sometimes unlikely) groups of stakeholders together to address common social problems and work closely with local United Ways to create innovative opportunities to address them.

Boosting Program Impact

United Ways of California enhances the community impact of local United Ways by facilitating collaboration across United Ways and regions, sharing innovations and lessons learned, improving practices, and building organizational capacity.

Strengthening Resource Development

United Ways of California helps bring funding and material support to communities served by local United Ways through regional and statewide collaboratives, and by working with donors and community partners who wish to support United Ways at a regional and state level.

California United Ways

United Ways are well-positioned to address the health, education, and income needs of Californians. We are connected to our local communities through direct service via local United Ways and their community-based organization partners. Few charitable organizations are involved both in working to empower families and communities and also advocating for changes in the systems and policies that determine how effectively families and communities are supported. This gives us a rare perspective on opportunities to improve. United Ways of California helps bridge the gap between advocacy and practice by bringing local United Ways’ knowledge to the table to inform advocacy change in areas most critical to low income Californians.

California’s local United Ways do vital work in their communities. Collectively, they raised over $355 million in 2021 for targeted investments in critical health, education, financial sustainability, and additional support for COVID-19 relief and disaster response.

By working together through United Ways of California, local United Ways can more effectively pursue opportunities and develop resources across multiple regions and the entire state, and better influence regional, state, and federal systems and policies, which has a significant impact in increasing the odds of success for the people and causes local United Ways’ serve in their communities.

Individually and together, California’s United Ways build a stronger California by mobilizing our business, community, and government partners through research, civic engagement, advocacy, and results-based funding.

An equitable society has an obligation to remove barriers while providing support to all people. We have the power to end poverty, dismantle racism, and create a just nation for all. That requires our fervent defense of the most vulnerable. With that in mind, we must work tirelessly to create just policies and address inequities in the policing of Black and Brown citizens. Communities of color deserve more than survival; they deserve hopes and dreams, the right to access quality schools, safe and affordable neighborhoods, and jobs and careers with economic mobility. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, United Way has always worked with formed coalitions among sometimes unlikely allies. These have included corporations and small businesses, labor, philanthropic and charitable institutions, elected and unelected leaders, service providers, and community advocates. United Way currently confronts the challenges of inequity in access to education, financial stability, and health that the COVID-19 pandemic has starkly revealed. Moving forward, United Way will do so in a manner that is intentionally aligned with racial justice and intersectionality.

The “United” in our name has meaning, and how we “Live United” matters. Americans disagree on many things, but we must all agree that everyone deserves dignity and respect. We are better as a nation when we pull together to confront crises rather than let those crises divide us. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stated in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, we do not seek “the absence of tension”, we seek “the presence of justice.” To that end, we commit to advancing equity and racial justice, and we join United Ways across the country in adopting and endorsing the following definition and vision to guide our work:

United Way’s Definition of Equity

Equity is the intentional inclusion of everyone in society. Equity is achieved when systemic, institutional, and historical barriers based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities are dismantled and no longer predict socioeconomic, education, and health outcomes.

United Way’s Equity Vision

We recognize structural racism and other forms of oppression have contributed to persistent disparities which United Way seeks to dismantle. Our United Way network strives to engage community members, especially those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized. We work with residents and public and private partners to co-create solutions that ensure everyone has the resources, opportunities, and networks they need to thrive. We commit to leveraging all of our assets (convening, strategic investments, awareness building, advocacy) to create more equitable communities.

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