Our History

Committed to Improving Our Community

Creating Change for Nearly 100 Years

United Way has a rich history in helping neighborhoods and communities in Central Alabama. From the very beginning, we were committed to cooperative action that helped make a difference in people’s lives.

United Way of Central Alabama, Inc. (formerly The Birmingham Community Chest) was founded in 1923 with 31 agencies and a goal of $450,000. The generosity of the community ran deep. Even in 1929, the year of the stock market crash, the ambitious goal was met. That year, more than half a million dollars was raised-a despite desperate economic conditions.

In 1943, during World War II, the Birmingham Community Chest campaign raised more than $1 million for the first time. In 1956, the organization changed its name to the United Appeal. Two years later, the $2 million milestone was passed.

In 1969, the local organization was invited into neighboring Shelby County. Then in 1970 agencies in Walker County joined as well. The legal name was changed to the United Way-Community Chest of Central Alabama, Inc. in 1985. And in 1992, we began using the name we use today: United Way of Central Alabama, Inc.

Today, United Way’s impact has grown to over 80 programs and initiatives in a six county region. We now serve Chilton, Jefferson, Shelby, Walker, Blount, and St. Clair counties. Our fundraising impact has also increased to more than $38 million. Despite all of the changes through history, the United Way has not changed its basic purpose: to mobilize the caring power of communities to improve the lives of others.

Our Recent Impact


people had their basic needs met


respite hours provided to caregivers


students grades K-3 received literacy support