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Orange County United Way Celebrates 100 Years Of Impact And Sets The Course For The Next 100 Years

Orange County United Way Celebrates 100 Years of Impact and Sets the Course for the Next 100 Years

  • “Journey to 100” campaign encourages community members to get involved and celebrate 100 years of impact in Orange County
  • Centennial Gala slated for November 2, 2024

Irvine, CA (January 23, 2024) – Orange County United Way is set to embark on a second century of breaking barriers and improving lives by empowering students and families, reducing income disparity, connecting residents to health and human service resources, and ending homelessness in Orange County.

Orange County United Way is guided by the motto, “Taking Care of One Another. That’s the OC Way.” At the core of the organization are its three main initiatives including United for Student Success, United for Financial Security and United to End Homelessness, as well as its key service, 2-1-1 Orange County, which connects residents to community-based programs and was acquired by Orange County United Way last year.

In 1924, the first Community Chest in Santa Ana was established, paving the way for the first of several United Way Funds and United Ways in Orange County. These organizations would later merge into a single Orange County United Way, dedicated solely to providing services to the Orange County community.

Over the years, the mission to improve lives and strengthen the community has remained the same. As communities evolve and models to effectively address key critical issues also evolve, Orange County United Way continues to mobilize the caring power of Orange County.

“Our unique approach comes from an understanding that our community’s most critical issues are inter-related. Over the last two decades, we have created and implemented programs that fill gaps in our community, to ensure we are meeting the needs of all people. We also work with a robust ecosystem of community partners including local school districts, government agencies, nonprofit service providers, corporations, foundations, faith-based organizations and volunteers, to rally together to tackle our community’s needs and provide long term solutions,” said Susan B. Parks, President and CEO of Orange County United Way. “As we celebrate the 100 year anniversary of this great organization, I am encouraged by the impactful work we’ve already completed and look forward to all we can accomplish in the next 100 years.”

The recent opening of the new Varanasi Equity Workspace on January 10 kicked off Orange County United Way’s meaningful and impactful efforts for the next 100 years. The Varanasi Equity Workspace, developed through a generous donation from the Varanasi family,

provides a new resource where organizations can meet, work together, and build the future of their organizations in service to the community.

“With dynamic plans to tackle homelessness, financial insecurity, and student success, we forge forward. As we embark on this new century of understanding and addressing Orange County’s most critical issues, we invite you to join us. Be the change you want to see in our community. For you, for our community, and for our future,” added Parks.

There are several ways the community can get involved to celebrate:

  • Scorecard Event – In early Spring, hear from Orange County United Way who will provide an update on the collective impact for the year in Orange County.
  • Women’s Philanthropy Fund Breakfast – On May 16, 2024, attend the top breakfast in Orange County for an opportunity to make a significant impact and support local programs and services that empower Orange County families.
  • Journey to 100 Golf Tournament – Date coming soon.
  • Rally for Change – On September 25, 2024, this Corporate Social Responsibility Celebration will recognize outstanding agents of change in Orange County. The event brings together top executives, corporate partners, and advocates for social change who share a deep commitment to supporting Orange County United Way’s mission.
  • The Corporate 100 Challenge – Orange County companies have a chance to go above and beyond for the community. Add 100 donors, commit to 100 volunteer hours, pledge an additional $100,000, or get creative and come up with a unique ‘100’ goal.
  • Journey to 100 Centennial Gala – Join us November 2, 2024, at ARTIC in Anaheim for the Journey to 100 Centennial Gala.

For more about the Journey to 100 Campaign or to donate, visit

Among the organization’s key milestones in Orange County over the last 100 years:

  • 1924 – First Community Chest in Santa Ana is established, paving the way for the establishment of several United Way Funds and United Ways in Orange County.
  • 1945 – Community chest started WWII relief fund.
  • 1950s – United Way payroll donation launched.
  • 1984 – Mergers of all local United Ways into one entity: Orange County United Way
  • 1984-1991 – Orange County United Way establishes three regional offices in North, South, and West Orange County.
  • 1998 – Regional Offices closed and consolidated into one corporate office in Irvine, with regional presence maintained through volunteer Regional Councils.
  • 1999-2004– United Way develops key community efforts to address specific community needs: Success by 6, Somos Familia, Keeping Kids on Track, and Women’s Empowerment Portfolio.
  • 2001 – Women’s Philanthropy Fund launched and has now grown to be a national model for United Way Women’s Leadership Councils.
  • 2004 – Orange County United Way implements the “Community Impact” funding strategy with a clear focus on Education, Income, and Basic Needs.
  • 2010 – The Destination Graduation program is launched, aimed at increasing the high school graduation rate by offering middle and high school students from high-need districts exciting college and career exploration opportunities.
  • 2012 – The first SparkPoint OC Financial Empowerment Center launched in Westminster at Abrazar, aimed at helping hard-working low-income residents gain free access to personal finance coaching and financial resources.
  • 2014 – The FACE 2024 10-year strategic plan is adopted after two years of research, community dialogue and volunteer input to maximize and focus collective resources to make a positive impact and measure community change goals in the areas of Education, Income, Health and Housing.
  • 2018 – Orange County United Way launched the United to End Homelessness initiative, mobilizing corporate, philanthropic, non-profit, faith-based and government leaders committed to the shared goal of ending homelessness in Orange County.
  • 2020 – Orange County United Way established a Pandemic Relief Fund to support Orange County’s most vulnerable during COVID-19 response.
  • 2023 – Orange County United Way acquired 2-1-1 Orange County, a major step forward in providing connections to critical housing, food, and crisis assistance and resources to those in need in Orange County.


Orange County United Way is committed to breaking barriers and improving lives for everyone who lives here. Through our key initiatives—United for Student Success℠, United for Financial Security℠, and United to End Homelessness℠—we are working to ensure local students succeed, families gain financial security, and our unhoused neighbors find a place to call home. We also offer vital support via 2-1-1 Orange County (211OC), a key service that connects thousands of our most vulnerable residents with health and human service resources. We are committed to caring for one another. That’s #TheOCWay.

This year, Orange County United Way celebrates 100 years of purpose and impact in Orange County. To learn more or discover how you can help, visit

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Media Contact: Annie Noebel,, (949) 525-7024

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