Our History

News and notes through the years tell the United Way story



The Aurora Social Service Federation is formed, later becoming United Way of the Aurora Area.


The Federation launches a fund drive for Central Europe and the Russian Relief program. 


Merchants Bank made an interest-free loan to the Federation of $5,000.


The Salvation Army began raising funds to buy a building on the south
side of Main Street near Root Street. Members of the Aurora Social
Service Federation (United Way) met with the Salvation Army to discuss
the problem of handling transients in Aurora.


The Federation became the Community Chest of Aurora. A committee was formed to study the cooperation and overlapping of agencies' work.


The Community Chest of Aurora's campaign goal was $115,100.


The Family Service Organization found an increasing number of families being evicted from their homes due to non-payment of rent.


The Community Chest gave $75 to the Dental Clinic, an agency that was established and supported by Aurora dentists.


Excerpts from "A Study of the Problems and Resources in Aurora, Illinois to Determine the Need of Reorganizing a Family Service Organization" show some of the concerns faced by social service organizations of the time.

Case 1:

A woman, deserted, on relief, claimed she was unable to get along and wanted to place her four children.

Case 2:

A husband wanted to leave his wife and place the children because the economic stress of unemployment had weakened his morale and had made him unable to cope with his responsibilities.


A Refugee Committee was appointed to serve the United States Children's Committee on Care of European Children. From "Regular Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Community Chest of Aurora," on Oct. 24: "He (Mr. Savage) told the board that the United States Committee had notified us that the evacuation of British children would be discontinued for the duration of the winter…"


A War Chest Committee was established.


The annual meeting of the Community Chest was held at the YMCA auditorium and was attended by 225 members of the public to hear Mr. Louis J. Alber give "a fascinating talk on "The Irresistible Winston Churchhill"."


A $2,000 grant-in-aid was made to the Community Council for the purpose of starting a "Mental Hygiene Clinic" in Aurora which would serve the needs of both veterans and civilians. The purpose of the clinic was to "give psychological and psychiatric services to returned veterans, children's cases, and civilians."


Dr. T.P. Stephens was honored as president of the Community Chest for seven years and his chairmanship of seven fundraising campaigns.


Campaign goal was $199,500. The executive director said the primary concern was the nine city-wide campaigns, each raising between $100,000 and $125,000, in addition to the Red Feather Community Chest campaign. His fear was that "the public is confused between strong moral impulses to meet human needs and the inability to be intelligently selective of the recipients of limited funds available as contributions."


Community Chest hired a fundraising firm to assist in revamping campaign organization.


The Free Milk Fund was discontinued.


The Community Chest received $5,400.52 from Charity Day--an event on opening day at the Aurora Downs racetrack. The February meeting minutes called it "a highly promoted affair with movie stars, radio and TV stars, etc."


The Campaign raised $411,000. The Community Chest of Aurora became known as United Fund.


An outstanding citizenship award was given to Mr. W.B. Greene, of Barber-Green manufacturing company, for his outstanding contributions to the community. Funding provided for an alcoholism treatment program.


The scholarship committee awarded a one-year $3,000 scholarship grant to a second year graduate student at the University of Illinois, Jane Addams Graduate School of Social Work. Upon completion of studies, the student was to work for two years in an Aurora Agency.


A study was conducted "to determine the need and demand of day care services for the entire community." Part of the study was a profile of working mothers who indicated they would use day care services. The Marie Wilkinson Child Development and Community Center was established.


In conjunction with "Operation Lead Poisoning," medical authorities released information stating that lead poisoning is a serious problem. The group agreed a cooperative community effort was needed.


United Fund became known as United Way of the Aurora Area. Primary focus during this year was "to realize the full potential benefit of our new combined Budget-Planning Task Force, our new year-round Fund Raising Division, our intensified Public Information effort…"


Campaign goal is $1,032,684.


Congressman Tom Corcoran in a letter to President Ronald Reagan, said, "The participation of the Right to Work Legal Defense Fund has Clearly deterred labor organizations form giving to United Way…"


The Donor Choice Program begins, allowing donors to designate which area of social service they would like their dollars to be spent. Also, Payments by Visa or MasterCard are allowed.


An area Needs Assessment was conducted.  Bi-annual updates will be conducted and published.  Every fifth year, a full, detailed Needs Assessment will be conducted and consist of a more detailed process.  This document will assist United Way in determining which issues are most important to the community at the time. Also, a Freedom Flight raffle was held for a plane ride on a B-17, in conjunction with the national Freedom Flight tour of historic warplanes, which stopped at Aurora Municipal Airport. Six people were able to ride on the historic plane.


Developed a new allocation process which asks for a request for proposals in 10 service areas. The agencies submit the programs, and these are compared to the community needs assessment.


Formed the Funders Consortium which allows the community to view the proposals and work collaboratively at addressing health and human service issues in the community.


United Way received a grant from the City of Aurora to develop an Outcome Measurements program. Member agencies received training on measuring outcomes which are beneficial to the agencies as well as the donors. Outcome measurements provide invaluable information to improve programs and track results.


The United Way campaign was enhanced by new computer technology, a web site and a regional marketing effort. United Way works constantly to ensure that community needs are met efficiently and effectively. United Way chairs the local FEMA Board, serves on the Continuum of Care Leadership Board and launched the Charter for Illinois Children in the Aurora area.


United Way completed the second community wide needs assessment. The Allocation Committee used the assessment as a tool for making funding decisions, reviewing critical issues and seek programs that best fill those needs.


September 11th tragic events were different from any other we have experienced in our lives. In our sadness and as our nation prepared for a War on Terrorism, people everywhere came together to help in any way they could. Donors turned to United Way as a way of expressing their feelings for the victims in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. Americans showed their generosity by giving more than $200 million to the September 11th Fund and millions more to the American Red Cross National Disaster Fund. The United Way of the Aurora Area faced a challenging campaign with an aggressive goal of $1,554,000 and a declining economy. Aside from all the monies donated to the September 11th Fund, the campaign surpassed the campaign goal raising $1,570,367 which was the largest amount ever raised during a campaign.


By collaborating with area funders and social service agencies, United Way was awarded an SBC Excelerator Grant in the amount of $37,500.  The grant allowed United Way to enhance a donor's ability to give and make a difference, provided an avenue for agencies to access state of the art technology and offers the needy a means to access services.  The grant enabled United Way to generate, allocate and manage resources which matches services with donors' charitable choice.  This opportunity fosters standards of excellence in member agency management, stimulates community volunteer involvement, encourages collaboration among all service organizations and provides leadership for a positive response to emerging community needs.  This was just one of the many ways United Way was able to leverage resources throughout the year to help build a strong healthy community.


1st Annual Cardboard Boat Race & Youth Initiative Grant


Name changed to Fox Valley United Way, merged with
Plano & Yorkville and raised $2.1M