In 1887, church leaders in Denver met to organize efforts to solve their city’s social welfare problems. The collaboration of the priest, two ministers and a rabbi resulted in a united campaign to raise funds for 10 health and welfare agencies and creation of an organization to collect and distribute funds for local charities, coordinate relief services, counsel and refer clients, and award emergency assistance grants. This organization soon became the United Way.
The Chillicothe Community Fund was started supporting five organizations: Boy Scouts, Ross County YMCA, Ross County Welfare Associations (now the Assistance House) and the Ross County Tuberculosis Association. The early theme of fundraising campaigns was "Give once...but give enough for all FIVE."
In 1942, the Council of Social Agencies of Chillicothe and Ross County was chartered by the State of Ohio. In 1954, the name of the organization was changed to Community Chest and Council of Chillicothe and Ross County. The current name, United Way of Ross County, adopted in 1986, more accurately identified its affiliation with United Way of America.
The first documented campaign goal was $20,000 in 1938. A total of $27,668 was raised that year. At its peak in the late 1990s and prior to historic economic turmoil and downturns, United Way of Ross County raised more than $700,000 a year. More recent campaign goals and accomplishments (2008-2014) range from $572,000 to $625,000.
While this traditional model of raising and distributing funds among local health and social service agencies remains a core element, the role of United Way has evolved in recent years in its transition to a Community Impact Business Model. More than just a fund raiser, United Way is an active partner with the agencies it supports and a convener and collaborator with others in the community to create and support specific programs and larger community initiatives that improve lives and strengthen our community.
On February 1, 2016, United Way of Ross County opens its doors at its current location at 69 East Water Street.