100 Years

United Way’s
100th Anniversary Celebration

Sept. 15, 2022

View the United We Win: Faces of Our Community publication here.

Will you be a part of our
next 100 years?

Celebrating the past. Building for the future.

2022 marks the 100th anniversary of our United Way. For 100 years, we have united the community and mobilized resources so that every child, individual and family thrives.

For 100 years, we have asked our donors, partners and supporters to join in, stand up and dig deep. And for 100 years, you have done just that. Thank you for helping us create a community where every person—no matter their background, their circumstances or their zip code—has an equal chance at a bright future.

Where We’re Headed

For 100 years, we have worked tirelessly to break the cycle of poverty, to give kids an equal chance, to meet our neighbors’ basic needs and to build strong, healthy communities. ​​Yet, there is still so much work to be done. So many children’s futures to be written and so many lives to be changed for the better.

As we celebrate how far we have come, our focus is not just where we have been, but where we will go.

We have big dreams for our community. As we look toward the future, we envision a region in which:

  • Every family has access to high-quality, affordable child care
  • All of our students have a solid foundation and are ready to read and learn
  • Our workforce is equitable, educated and ready to take on new challenges
  • Every person has a roof over their head and food on the table
  • No family lives in poverty
  • Our communities are strong, healthy and vibrant for all of our neighbors

It will take all of us—standing up and rallying around these efforts with the aligned mission of investing in something big—something no one gift or one organization can accomplish on their own. To create a thriving community, it will take the whole community. We hope you’ll consider joining us as we create a thriving place for all. Will you be a part of our next 100 years?

History of our United Way

In 1922, the War Chest Campaign was born–providing much-needed relief and fundraising coordination–as Nashville was working hard to recover and rebuild from World War I. A few years later, a small group of individuals continued this work as a way to coordinate fundraising and distribution efforts among local charities, changing its name to the Community Chest. Through the 1920s and 30s, the Community Chest drew steady annual donations of $250,000 for 39 recipient organizations. In the 1940s, support for the Community Chest grew as companies began to allow once-a-year solicitations of employees in the workplace. The United Givers Fund, organized in 1954 with 40 agencies for relief programs such as food, clothing and shelter, changed to Nashville Area United Way in 1975—evolving from a fundraising and allocations mechanism to a system working to solve community human services problems.

As the organization grew, local philanthropist Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr. had dreams of establishing a major giving society; he envisioned an alliance of community and business leaders who would work collectively to address our community’s most pressing needs. In 1981, he partnered with 27 Nashville visionaries to create the Alexis de Tocqueville Society Alpha Chapter. Since inception, Tocqueville Society members have invested more than $10 billion in the work of United Way worldwide and more than $160 million in Nashville. The society now boasts 23,613 members worldwide who contribute $10,000 or more per year to local United Ways.

In 1999, we became United Way of Middle Tennessee then United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, reflecting changes to our footprint and service area over the years.

In 2020, as United Way of Metropolitan Nashville began to merge with local United Ways serving other counties, our name changed to what it’s now known as today: United Way of Greater Nashville.

While our name has changed throughout the years, our mission remains the same: to unite the community and mobilize resources so that every child, individual and family thrives.