United Way of Central Iowa (UWCI) concluded its 100th Year at a celebration today recognizing the impact of several initiatives throughout 2016.

The Centennial Celebration held at the Iowa Events Center showcased the volunteer opportunities, advocacy and investments leveraged toward achieving the community’s Goals for 2020 in Education, Income and Health. Some of the initiatives undertaken last year include:

  • Read to Succeed, UWCI’s first-ever, community-wide call to action, mobilized more than a thousand volunteers, produced thousands of literacy kits, and provided teachers, parents and caregivers with knowledge and tools to help kids read proficiently by the end of third grade.
  • OpportUNITY organized more than 2,000 nonprofits, businesses, and community leaders into a comprehensive effort to bring prosperity to the one-third of central Iowans who are not financially stable. 
  • The Literacy Solstice engaged more than 1,200 volunteers to complete 3,000 literacy kits for children at United Way-funded programs.
  • The Pack a Protein Picnic Food Drive gathered 15,000 pounds of food, especially protein, to help feed the more than 65,000 central Iowans who are food insecure. The drive took place during the summer, when protein options are at their lowest.
  • An expanded Graduation Walk visited nearly 1,500 homes to encourage at-risk students to graduate, with an added component of reaching out to middle and high school students with high rates of absenteeism. 
  • UWCI hosted four summits focused on mental health, high school graduation, reducing poverty, and refugee services. 
  • The Bridges to Success program was launched to assist 10,000 adults in getting their high school equivalency diploma by 2020.

“This year has been a milestone year for United Way of Central Iowa,” said Mary Sellers, President of UWCI. “The many initiatives and thousands of people who engaged in them are a testament to this amazing community. For 100 years, United Way has united the caring power of our community to take on challenges big and small – from convening the community to tackle tough issues like poverty and getting kids ready for school success, to partnering with thousands of people who donate each year to a campaign that makes the work of improving our community possible.”

United Way Worldwide has cited UWCI as the number one per capita giving United Way in the country among those United Ways raising more than $25 million.

“United Way has evolved in a number of ways over 100 years, always being there to support the community through every challenge,” said Suku Radia, CEO of Bankers Trust and co-chair of the 2016 campaign. “The organization makes a real difference and continually measures the impact it’s making for all central Iowans.”

“United Way is focused on the fundamental human needs of health, education and financial stability,” said Nora Everett, president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal and co-chair of the 2016 campaign. “While today’s issues are challenging, United Way is bringing together the resources, innovation, passion, and hard work needed to bring about systemic, enduring change.”

In the final weeks of the 100th Year Celebration, UWCI staff will give back to the community through volunteer opportunities and donation drives that will provide needed support to community partners and the central Iowans they serve.

About United Way
Since 1917, United Way of Central Iowa (UWCI) has brought together individuals, employers and organizations from throughout central Iowa to create and implement initiatives focused on making lasting impact in the areas of education, income and health. UWCI is a "Collective Impact" organization focused on bringing together nonprofits, businesses, government, and community leaders to collaborate and implement solutions to tackle our community's most critical issues.

Sarah Welch

Written by Sarah Welch

Sarah Welch is the former Strategic Communications Officer at United Way of Central Iowa.