The First United Way in the World

In 1887, a Denver Colorado woman, a priest, two ministers and a rabbi got together... It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but they didn't walk into a bar; what they did do was recognize the need to work together in new ways to make Denver a better place.  

Frances Wisebart Jacobs, the Rev. Myron W. Reed, Msgr. William J.O’Ryan, Dean H. Martyn Hart and Rabbi William S. Friedman put together an idea that became the first united campaign in the U.S., benefitting 10 area health and welfare agencies. They created an organization to collect the funds for local charities, to coordinate relief services, to counsel and refer clients to cooperating agencies, and to make emergency assistance grants for cases that could not be referred. That year, Denver raised $21,700 for this greater good, and created a movement that would become United Way worldwide. 

The First United Way in Canada

The movement, which was later to become the United Way of Canada, was born in 1917. Over the years, the organization was known by many names – among them Community Chest, United Appeal and Red Feather. The national office was created in 1939, as a program division of the Canadian Welfare Council led by Charlotte Whitton, an influential feminist, municipal leader, and companion of the Order of Canada.

In 1972 prominent designer Saul Bass created the iconic United Way logo, depicting the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow symbolizing hope. He did such a fantastic job that United Ways still use it today across Canada. Canada’s national office officially became known as United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada in 1976, recognizing the bilingual nature of Canada’s culture and language.

The United Way of Prince Edward Island

The United Way was established on Prince Edward Island in 1962. Although we are members of the United Way of Canada and United Way International, we operate autonomously as one of more than 100 United Way/Centraides across the country.  We are a registered not-for-profit public foundation governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, with a small staff and many volunteers.  

Over the years, we've become more than a fundraising organization. Rather than measuring our success in dollars raised, we measure our success in actual lives changed. Every year, the United Way of PEI impacts the lives of Islanders from tip to tip. We can do this because we have spent more than 50 years developing deep roots and trust in the communities we serve on PEI. That strong foundation provides us with the resources, reputation and relationships needed to bring people and organizations together around innovative solutions. 

Even though we have evolved and changed over the years to address the challenges of a changing world, the one thing that hasn't changed is our focus on improving lives and strengthening communities here on PEI. 

 Our motto is “Separately, we are many lives.  Together, we are one Island family.”

"I can honestly say that the Boys & Girls Club and the programming provided through the generous donations the United Way has helped me become a better father and a better man."

- Johnny, Boys & Girls Club of Summerside


Behind every changed life is someone like you who made it happen. All donations to the United Way of PEI stay on PEI to help Islanders.


Charitable Registration No. BN119278356 RR 0001

For all general inquiries, please contact:
United Way of Prince Edward Island
180 Kent Street, 2nd Floor
PO Box 247
Charlottetown, PEI
C1A 7K4

Toll Free: 1-877-902-4438
Phone: 902-894-8202
Fax: 902-894-9643

Office Hours: Monday - Friday, 8:00AM - 4:00PM

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