Our Story

Bringing People Together to Create Lasting Change in Our Knoxville/Knox County Community

our Mission

United Way of Greater Knoxville unites people and resources to strengthen communities and solve systemic issues.

Our Vision

An equitable community through partnerships, impact, and commitment to transformation.

modern united way

In 2022, we celebrated United Way of Greater Knoxville's centennial year, and we unveiled our plans for our next 100 years. 

As the Modern United Way, we are broadening our scope to include systems-level work in areas such as housing, food, and early care and education. We will continue acting as a nonprofit funder and supporter, but we will also be advocating on a larger scale to create lasting, systemic change in our community.

our History

We started in 1922 as the Community Chest of Greater Knoxville. The idea for our giving structure began in Denver, Colorado after the 1887 gold rush went bust. The idea came from local clergy members and a volunteer, who organized a citizen’s response effort to render aid to hungry and homeless individuals. Their first campaign raised $21,700, and their idea spread throughout the United States and landed in our great city in 1922. 

Since that time we have worked to understand local needs, mobilize volunteers, to raise awareness and money to meet community needs by granting money to programs that align with predetermined goals.
Our name changed and we evolved into United Way in 1972. Our focus and strategy have evolved over the last 100 years, but the goal is the same.

OUR commitment

United Way of Greater Knoxville, in solidarity with our black, brown, and indigenous communities, stands firm in our organizational position which opposes all forms of racism and discrimination. We are resolved that our intentional commitment to anti-racism not only be stated but also be boldly reflected through our service, our partnerships and our organizational culture. We stand bold, we stand steadfast, we stand UNITED.


When you donate to United Way of Greater Knoxville, you know that your money is going to programs in Knoxville that improve the lives of people living in our community. We are the leading charitable institution in Knoxville representing the wishes of our donors through our program review and funding process.

Volunteers work year-round to carefully weigh the needs of the community to ensure generous contributions are used in the most efficient, effective manner possible by local community partners. We are working diligently to improve our grant process each year to create a more equitable process for all local nonprofits seeking funding. Learn more about our funded partners here.

990 from 2022
Knox Audit 2023
Code of Ethics