Who We Are
United Ways of California improves the health, education and financial results for low-income children and families by enhancing and coordinating the advocacy and community impact work of California’s 29 local United Ways. United Ways of California was formed in 2008 by California's local United Ways seeking to work together to educate state and national leaders about policy issues affecting community impact goals in health, education, and financial stability.
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. They advance opportunities for low-income people by focusing on three priority areas:
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 state organization, 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) groupings 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 sharing innovations and lessons learned, improving practices, and building organizational capacity.
United Ways of California helps bring funding and resources to the communities that local United Ways serve through regional and statewide collaboratives, and by working with donors who wish to support United Ways at a regional and state level.
California’s United Ways
United Ways are well-positioned to address the needs of Californians. We are connected to our local communities through direct service via local United Ways and their community-based organization partners. Few advocacy organizations also provide or fund services in the areas their beneficiaries need; United Ways of California helps bridge the gap between policy and practice by bringing local United Ways' expertise to the table to inform policymakers on what areas are most critical to low-income Californians.
California’s local United Ways do vital work in their communities. Collectively, they raised over $350 million in 2021 in charitable support for targeted investments and critical health, education, and financial sustainability services.
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 the state policy environment, which has a significant impact on local United Ways’ success in their communities.
Individually and together, California’s United Ways build a stronger California by mobilizing our public, private and nonprofit sectors through research, civic engagement, public policy advocacy, and results-based funding.
United Way’s mission is to fight for the education, health, and financial stability of every person in every community. 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, jobs and careers with economic mobility. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, United Way has always worked with and formed coalitions among sometimes unlikely allies. Those 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. noted, 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.