United Way of Greater Knoxville unites people and resources to strengthen communities and solve systemic issues.
An equitable community through partnerships, impact, and commitment to transformation.
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.
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.