What We Do

Since 1924, United Way of West Florida has fought for the health, education, and financial stability of every citizen in our community. We do this by working collaboratively with hundreds of companies, thousands of community members, local government, and local non-profit agencies. We believe working together is the best way to improve lives and build a stronger community.

1924 The Beginning:

The ‘Community Chest’ concept is introduced to Pensacola as a way to consolidate charitable requests made by local companies and businesses. 

1941 Goal Surpassed:

Headlines read, “CHEST DRIVE GOES OVER TOP IN FUND TOTAL,” however in 1925, the campaign goal had actually been surpassed for the first time, by a total of $27.60. That goal was $34,950.

1943 National War Fund:

Many Community Chests outside of Pensacola were merging into the National War Fund. Pensacola was the last Community Chest in Florida to combine with the National War Fund, but first to reach its goal. The goal of $110,000 was exceeded by $5,244.

1944 Agency Tours:

Agency “Come and See Tours” were incorporated for industrial employees. Today, Agency Tours are a significant component of the Community Investment process, allowing Panelists the opportunity to see firsthand the impact that programs and services administered by nonprofit agencies have on the community.

1948 The Community Chest:

The Community Chest becomes the “Greater Pensacola Community Chest,” and kicks off with the campaign slogan, “Give! Give Enough! Support your Community Chest!” featured beside a giant Chest thermometer measuring progress at the corner of Garden and Palafox Streets in downtown Pensacola. 

1957 Greater Pensacola United Fund:

Headlines read, “A Greater Pensacola United Fund was born Thursday morning,” as the organization continues to evolve. Shortly thereafter, in 1960, the Fund began serving 19 agencies.

1957 Pacesetters

The term “Pacesetters” was adopted to give credit to the firms and companies supporting the fundraising drive and setting pace for the others. In 1951, the inaugural Pacesetters class included Lewis Bear Company, Muldon Motor Company, Sherrill Oil Company, and Hygeia Coca-Cola Bottling Company. This past year, 14 companies, organizations, and institutions qualified as Pacesetters and raised a combined $519,682 to kick off the campaign season.

1968 Loaned Executives:

Loaned Executives, known today as Ambassadors, were first introduced in 1968. These volunteers play a vital role in the implementation and execution of workplace campaigns. In 2018-19, 15 individuals from 12 organizations were part of the graduating Ambassador class.

1972 A New Beginning:

By vote of membership, United Fund changes its name and becomes United Way of Escambia County. New bylaws were adopted and service grew to be county-wide.

1989 The Red Feather Fellowship:

The Red Feather Fellowship was introduced to recognize individuals and families giving over $1,000 annually. The symbolism of the Red Feather as a badge of honor dates back to the Community Chest days. There were 85 inaugural Red Feathers, giving a combined $115,000. Today the Fellowship consists of four giving levels ($1,000 - $9,999), and includes more than 350 of our community’s most generous individuals, collectively giving over $500,000.

1993 Day of Caring:

United Way of Escambia County organizes the First Annual Day of Caring, the event has since grown to be the largest organized day of volunteerism in Northwest Florida.

1999 School Supply Drive:

Cram the Van was created, in partnership with WEAR TV3, and Sandy Sansing Chevrolet. In 2019, the School-District approved supply drive was rebranded as “Stuff the Bus.”

2004 First Call For Help:

UWEC assumed responsibility for First Call for Help and assisted with Hurricane Ivan relief efforts. This program was rebranded to 211 Northwest Florida in 2010. 

2019 Looking Ahead:

United Way of Escambia County incorporates Santa Rosa County into its service area and rebrands as United Way of West Florida.