United Way of Erie County was first conceptualized in 1911, when the first recorded discussion concerning the need to unite separate agencies for fundraising and mutual cooperation was held. Then in 1914, it was established under the name of Erie Social Service Federation when 11 of the 22 agencies in Erie County united. This federation of nonprofits would be known by a variety of names throughout the following years, including; Community Chest, United Fund and United Community Services. In 1974, it was established as United Way of Erie County. United Way of Erie County works locally to reduce poverty and increase self-sufficiency by mobilizing resources to improve community conditions.
For 100 years, United Way of Erie County has witnessed and experienced many changes, but the one thing that remains constant is its mission of improving people’s lives. The words may be different, but the message is still the same:
Provides free books to preschool children in Erie County; each month, starting from birth, a carefully selected, high quality book will be mailed in the child’s name directly to his/her home; the program continues until the child’s fifth birthday.
To maximize the impact of the Imagination Library, United Way launched the Reading Buddies Program; trained Reading Buddies are deployed in pairs throughout the community to teach parents and caregivers how to maximize the learning experience when reading to their children.
A free resource to lower the cost of prescriptions by an average of 35% for those with no insurance or for medicine not covered by insurance, Medicare or other benefit plans.
A program established to help eligible low to moderate income wage earners claim the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a cash refund, by providing them with free tax preparation and filing services at volunteer tax sites.
Erie's Public Schools Community Schools Partnership
United Way of Erie County in partnership with Erie's Public Schools announced the pilot of Community Schools in the Fall of 2016 at five EPS sites: Emerson-Gridley Elementary, Edison Elementary, McKinley Elementary, Pfeiffer-Burleigh and Wayne Schools. Community Schools are a strategy for organizing school and community resources around student success. Each Community School is both a place and a set of partnerships between the school and other community resources. Its integrated focus on academics, services, supports and opportunities leads to improved student learning, stronger families and healthier communities. Schools become centers of the community, open to everyone, all day, every day, evenings and weekends.