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Our History

The Early Years (1929-1945)

Organized in 1929 under the name of Marion Community Chest, eight-member agencies were supported. Those original member organizations were Grant County Tuberculosis Association, Marion General Hospital, Grant County Red Cross, Boy Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, Family Welfare Society, and The Salvation Army.During the very first campaign in 1929, a total of $48,851 was raised. Marion Community Chest continued to serve the Grant County Community until 1943 when it became the Grant County War Chest.Those early campaigns conducted by the Marion Community Chest generated anywhere from a high of $59,093 in 1932 to a low of $25,291 in 1939.The original eight member agencies did not change during those early years with the exception of Marion General Hospital, which withdrew in 1939. The first new agency, Carver Community Center, was added in 1942. This paved the way for the addition of several more agencies. The Girl Scouts were added in 1943 and Teenage Recreation Center in 1945.

United Fund for Grant County

On June 19, 1956, ninety-six citizens of Grant County met to consider the organization of a United Fund for Grant County. A fact-finding committee, chaired by Cornell Bailey, spent much time on assembling all available information about every voluntary fund drive held during a twelve-month period. This information included goals, results, costs, and the number of volunteer solicitors involved. This information was collected from eight different organizations including the Grant County War Chest. The facts obtained showed that a total of 1,256 solicitors were used to raise a combined total of $176,865 over a period of 262 days.The funding of the committee revealed that several of the goals were unmet and the number of solicitors and time involved was great. The committee's recommendation was that a United Fund be organized to reduce the demand of solicitor time and effort, which, in 1974, became the United Way of Grant County.The first United Fund campaign raised $238,608 which was 134% of its goal. These funds were used to provide allocations to twenty member agencies.

The United Fund experienced two major milestones during 1962. The first was the inclusion of the Boy's Club as a member agency. The second was the establishment of a citizen's budgeting panel. The panel's purpose was to review agency budgets and programs in related fields of service. This plan of operation provided for a greater understanding of these services and their costs. The formation of this committee paved the way for our current allocations process.

In 1964, on the recommendation of the Central Labor Union, a suggested minimum fair share gift was established of one hour's pay per month. This standard still exists today.To meet the ever-increasing needs of those within the labor movement in Grant County, the position of Labor Liaison was created in 1969. This position was dissolved in 2006 as a result of declining production industry in Grant County.

The United Way Today

The United Way has seen many changes and continues to play a very important part in our community. The United Way was created as a way to raise funding for the community in a more effective process. The Board moved the United Way into being a more engaged and venting agency for the donor's funds and the United Way is now on track to be an investment agency focused on the making strides towards community-level outcomes by investing in high quality and high performing community organizations.  

During the 1990s, the United Way of Grant County became involved with the Indiana Association of United Way's Giant Step Initiative. This program, funded by the Lilly Endowment, offered various grants to United Ways throughout Indiana. During the years of 1991 through 1994, Grant County received a total of $164,000 in monetary grants. These grants were used for the Giant Step Media Campaign and the COMPASS Project. Matching funds were received through their Leadership Giving program designed for all new givers. 

The United Way of Grant County faced major funding challenges in the early 2000's as much of the major manufacturing employers in Grant County either closed business or moved locations. This left high rates of unemployed and lead to many choosing to relocated for other opportunities. During this time the United Way of Grant County focused it support on critical needs of the families to try and help reduce the impact of this cultural change. 

In 2016 The United Way of Grant County brought on another partner agency in Project Leadership, which is focused on mentorship of high school aged to in preparation for college or career. The United Way of Grant County employs a Harwood Listening Session model for community-level conversations to collect public knowledge as well as expert knowledge to help guide the decision making and funding decisions. The United Way currently facilitates the Early Childhood Coalition, Family Shelter initiative and serves on the Substance Abuse Task-Force and Thriving Families-Thriving Grant County. 

With the establishment of an endowment through the Community Foundation in 1995, the United Way has demonstrated that it is planning for the future. The plan is to grow this endowment to $3.5 million so that the community will always have a local United Way office to oversee the social transition and investment for sustainable programming support. 

The United Way continues to be a leader in the community addressing current and emerging needs. It is committed to actively bringing together all sectors to help make the community more successful. In past years, it has provided grants for the operation of Answer Line (now called 211), a community information and referral service, and to the Community Rehab Project. In 2007, the United Way gave a grant to the Community School of the Arts for an after-school program called "Energy Program". 

The Mission of the United Way of Grant County is to build stronger families in Grant County by focusing support for Health, Education, and Financial Stability through uniting community resources to achieve measurable results. Each year and each funding cycle support that mission in partnership. 

current member agencies

  • American Red Cross
  • Boys and Girls Club of Grant County
  • Carey Services
  • Family Service Society: Hands of Hope
  • Grant-Blackford Mental Health Center
  • Project Leadership
  • Senior Center
  • Services for the Visually and Hearing Impaired
  • St. Martin's Community Center
  • The Salvation Army
  • YMCA

CURRENT Community Partnerships

  • Thriving Families Thriving Grant County
  • Early Childhood Coalition
  • Substance Abuse Taskforce
  • Community School of the Arts
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Great Beginnings
  • Marion Housing Authority
  • Cancer Services of Grant County
  • Boy Scouts
  • Girl Scouts