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Our History


United Way of Roanoke Valley has provided a strong foundation for people to improve their lives for the past 85 years.  The organization was established in the summer of 1924 as The Community Fund.  During the first three months, members of the Board enlisted support from all the major civic clubs, church groups and business and industry leaders.  W.C. Stephenson was the "founding father" and earliest crusader for The Community Fund in Roanoke.

Mr. Stephenson's speech on the advantages of united fund raising in 1924 could be just as easily used today.  "The Community Fund," he said, "develops a real community spirit which is fundamental to the life of a city.  A city that is made up solely of folks who think of self alone would be an unattractive home place.  It is the comradeship of service that creates real community spirit."

"The Community Fund unites all classes of the city," he continued.  "The old lines of division are eradicated.  People of all faiths work for the common good, each surrendering, where need be, his personal prerogatives for the common good."




Just as the Valley's economic, social and philanthropic landscape has evolved, so has the work of United Way.  Along with our partners and volunteers, we continuously assess the needs of the community and respond with both long-term and short-term plans that are focused on getting sustainable results in areas that matter most of the Roanoke Valley. Today, United Way continues its rich legacy of impacting the local community by advancing the common good by focusing on making a measurable difference on the building blocks of a good life: Education, Income and Health.


In partnership with local businesses, nonprofit organizations, the faith-based community, local and state governments, educational institutions and individuals, United Way remains committed to its mission of improving lives by mobilizing the caring power of people in our community. We continue to make wise investments of resources to address the most important issues facing our community and provide accountability for gifts made by our donors. United Way's new direction to advance the common good allows us to build on our traditional roles and assume a stronger role in convening and collaborating with other stakeholders to address root causes, not just the symptoms of problems as recommended by our donors and partners.



To read more about our History through the years, visit our Past and Present page.