1921 United Way of Pierce County established as Federation of Social Agencies. Partners included Tacoma Community House, Family Counseling, Red Cross and local churches.

Historic Tacoma


1922 A young Boy Scout attaches a small sticker promoting the Community Chest drive onto the windshield of a parked vehicle in March of 1922. This photograph was used in the Tacoma Sunday Ledger, March 19, 1922, edition. The Community Chest was a precursor of the United Good Neighbor Fund and later, United Way of Pierce County. "Tacoma Cares...Do Your Share" was the slogan for the fundraising drive for various Tacoma charities and social agencies. It had opened on March 18th for ten days. $271,478.68 was needed to support 28 relief and social agencies.

 comunity chest

1951 Under Board Chair Fred Osmers of NW Pharmaceutical $318,000 raised. Boeing Company agrees to participate, $2,484 was awarded to the local Girl Scouts Council.

1956 Under Board Chair Reno Odlin, founder Puget Sound Bank; United Way cracks $1 million mark for first time.  

1950 Tacoma

1973 Loaned Executive (now Campaign Executives) program established with 1 ½ full time employees. Today, United Way of Pierce County has hosted more than 700 Campaign Executives including business leaders Melanie Dressel (CEO of Columbia Bank; Bob Drugge (SVP Timberland Bank). Boeing Company has been the single greatest source of LE’s or sponsored LEs (more than 80).

1976 Under Campaign Chair Doug Erwin United Way raises $2 million for the first time.  Local funding priorities included $238,000 to the American Red Cross, a longstanding partner.


1984 Under Board Chair Rick Carr, we raised $4 million for the first time. Local Boys & Girls Clubs received $168,000.

1990 John Woodworth (Woodworth & Sons) led campaign that saw record single-year increase. John later served as board chair and chair of our Tocqueville Society, founded in 1996.



1994 With Rick Allen as CEO, & Charley & Barbara Bingham as first United Way co-Chairs. campaign broke $7 million.  

1995 September 30 UWPC moves into its new building, the Betye Martin Baker Human Service Center.  The building was built with 100% union labor.                                     

1999 Kent Roberts Board Chair and Mark Crisson Campaign Chair; $8.9 million raised.

2000 Early-Learning focus introduced under Joanne Bamford (Board Chair).

2003 ABCD program established in Pierce County – A dental program serving low-income families in Pierce County.

2006 United Way convenes local early learning experts to form a collaborative and later raises $5M for early learning.

2007 United Way and the early learning collaboration incubates First Five Fundamentals, which serves as a backbone organization along with United Way, to advance early learning in Pierce County.

2008 In a nationwide contest held by United Way Worldwide, United Way of Pierce County tied New York City in rolling out the Live United brand.

2012 United Way of Pierce County was publicly recognized by Dr. Bette Hyde, Director of the State Department of Early Learning, as one of the most influential advocate organizations for Early Learning in Washington State.

Betty Hyde

2013 A new long-term strategic plan is approved that focuses 70% of resources on prevention issues such as early learning and early grade success and still addresses urgent needs such as food, shelter and clothing.

2014 Dona Ponepinto, a United Way Executive with 28 years of experience begins her Presidency at United Way of Pierce County.

2016 Our Centers for Strong Families model is established with two locations in Pierce County.

2017 Received a million dollar grant from the Gates Foundation to expand our Center for Strong Families Initiative: Establish Bold Goal - Unite the Community to lift 15,000 households out of poverty by 2028; Held first From Poverty to Possibilities Summit with over 250 attendees.

2018 Board of Directors approved our cause statement - unite the community to end poverty, one family at a time. Center for Strong Famililes has grown to 7 partners in the Network.

2019 Received a $1M grant from the Kaiser Permanente Foundation for Center for Strong Families work; Partnered with the Department of Social and Health Services to launch Resilient Pierce County, a collaborative targeting the Franklin Pierce and East Tacoma communities with a focus on how to reimagine how families can be best served by the human services system.

2020 Covid-19 turns the world upside down. Our offices went virtual; partnered with the Greater Community Foundation to create and align philanthropy focused, addressing the most urgent and emerging needs as a result pandemic.The murder of George Floyd brought the ongoing racial injustices to the forefront in our communities. As a result, United Way strengthed its diversity and inclusion statement and set up specific actions need to ensure that we are taking steps to be an anti-racist organization; Kicked off the silent phase of and $8 million dollar Centennial Campaign.