From a modest beginning raising $42,000 for seven member agencies in 1929, Sioux Empire United Way has continued to grow in response to community needs.
In the 1930s, under the name Community Chest, the Sioux Empire United Way began its legacy with nine member agencies. Americans were facing the Great Depression and insurmountable need. The Community Chest stepped in and raised emergency funds to assist those in need.
As the 1940s began, and our country faced World War II, the Community Chest became the United Community Fund and War Chest Campaign. We helped soldiers through the USO and United Seamen, as well as provided relief funds for 11 occupied countries, while continuing our support for local agencies.
In the 1950s, we changed our name to the United Fund of Sioux Falls, and began providing funds to the YMCA, YWCA, Red Cross, Family Services, and Boys Club.
We merged with the Community Planning Council in 1960 to create a unified front to better serve our community.
Drug and alcohol abuse were identified as top issues in our first needs assessments in the 1970s. United Way directed funds to address these problems in our community. The current name of Sioux Empire United Way, Inc., was adopted at the corporate annual meeting held in February of 1971.
In the 1980s, women began to enter the workforce in higher numbers. The first childcare initiative was launched with the goal of making quality childcare available to everyone.
“Youth at Risk” was identified as a serious issue facing the community in the 1990s. As a result, United Way launched programs aimed at these youth in order to address the rising need.
Research on the importance of a child’s first years of life surfaced during the turn of the century. In the 2000s, United Way addressed the issue with initiatives such as Success by 6 and Ready to Read. And with a growing population of older adults, United Way also wanted to ensure this population maintains their way of life and independence by supporting programs for seniors, like Workers on Wheels.
Initiatives continue to be a part of Sioux Empire United Way success in the 2010s. Helping families maintain safe and permanent housing, providing food to children on weekends so they are ready to learn on Monday mornings and giving high school students the support they need to graduate - these are all ways in which we are changing lives.
No one can know what the future will bring, but we do know that Sioux Empire United Way will be here, meeting the growing and changing needs of our community for generations to come.