Our History

The United Way has seen many changes during its years but continues to remain an integral part in the Grant County community. The United Way was created as an outlet to raise funding for the community in a more effective way. The United Way is now on route to be an investment agency, focusing on making strides towards community-level outcomes but investing in high quality and high performing community agencies and organizations.

Throughout the 1990s, the United Way became involved with the Indiana Association of the United Way’s Giant Step Initiative, funded by the Lily Endowment, which offered various grants to United Ways throughout Indiana. During the years 1991 and 1994, Grant County received $164,000 in grants.

In the early 2000s, the United Way of Grant County faced major funding challenges. Many manufacturing employers in Grant Counter had closed or moved locations, leaving high rates of unemployment. During this time, the United Way was able to focus its support on these critical needs of community families and helped to reduce the impact of this cultural change.

In 2016 The United Way of Grant County brought on another partner agency, Project Leadership, which is focused on mentorship of high school aged students and preparing them for college or career. The United Way also currently facilitates the Early Childhood Coalition, Family Shelter Initiative, and serves on the Substance Abuse Task-Force and Thriving Families-Thriving Grant County.

2020 created additional challenges for the community with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United Way stepped up to help provide need care and supplies. The United Way Board of Directors continued in their strategic planning process and began 2021 with steps towards change. The United Way opened funding to any nonprofit in Grant County that was working in health, education and financial stability. 

The United Way continues to be a leader in the community, addressing current and emerging needs. They are committed to actively bringing all sectors of the community together to allow Grant County
to thrive and to be more successful.

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 day the United Way strives to support that mission through their works and services; Desiring to make Grant County great.


First established in 1929 the Marion Community Chest supported 8 community agencies, of which included the Grant County Tuberculosis Association, Marion General Hospital, Grant County Red Cross, Boy Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, Family Welfare Society, and The Salvation Army. The first year’s campaign raised a total of $48,851 and campaigns continued to appear successful in the years following.

The Marion Community Chest changed to the Grant County War Chest in 1943, only after the addition of agencies such as Carver Community Center, Girl Scouts, and the Teenage Recreation Center.

On June 19th, 1956, 96 community members met to consider the formation of a United Fund for Grant County. Cornell Bailey chairman of the fact-finding committee) spend ample time on gathering information about every voluntary funding drive during the course of a year. This information included goals, results, costs, and the number of volunteers.

Results concluded that a total of 1,256 volunteers raised a total of $176,865 in just 262 days. This led to the recommendation of a United Fund which then came to fruition through the United Way of Grant County in 1974. The first campaign as the United Way raised $238,608(134% of its goal) and used its funds to aid with 20 community agencies.

In 1962, the United Fund experienced two major milestones. First was the inclusion of the Boy’s Club as a community agency. The second was the formation of a citizen’s budgeting panel. The purpose of the panel was to review agency budgets and programs in related fields of service; the formation of this committee paved the way for the allocation process today.

In 1964, Central Labor Union suggested a minimum fair share gift be established of one hour’s pay per month. To meet the continually increasing need of those in the labor movement, the Labor Liaison was created in 1969 but later resolved in 2006 due to the declining production industry in Grant County.