CELEBRATING 135 YEARS AS THE FIRST UNITED WAY IN THE WORLD

As we celebrate this milestone, we also celebrate the families, individuals, donors, volunteers, and partners who have shaped our 135-year rich history. Our story includes many chapters and is only possible because of you. Now, our collective story continues as we look to the future and ensure all families have the opportunity to thrive. Watch the video to learn more. 

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Mile High United Way, the first United Way in the world, is celebrating 135 years of service and impact in Colorado.

Our History

Our story began on October 16, 1887 when a group of visionaries, including Frances Wisebart Jacobs, a priest, two ministers, and a rabbi, came together and formed what is now known as Mile High United Way. Today, the United Way movement spans 1,800 local chapters across the globe.

Our Work Today

Mile High United Way provides wraparound support to families across the seven-county Metro Denver area. Our programs and initiatives align with three Community Priorities: giving all children a strong start, supporting education and academic success, and creating economic opportunity for all.

Mile High United Way's Home Instruction for the Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY) program helps parents support their child’s kindergarten readiness in the comfort of their own homes.
At the heart of Mile High United Way are the many stories of children, mothers, fathers, business owners, volunteers, and partners that we are privileged to work alongside. Together, we are a Community United.

Scroll through the slider below to read a few of these stories.

  • 211 Resource Navigator

    Willie's Story

    "When I see people in tough situations, I feel responsible to be their navigator. To find them help and give them hope...This job at 211 was something I was born to do."
    Willie's Story
  • Tocqueville Society Donor and Volunteer

    Yun Hui's Story

    "My parents wished that their children would graduate from college. I was the first in my family to do so. My college degree gave me the opportunities that have brought me to this day. When I learned I could volunteer with third graders in Mile High United Way’s Power Lunch program, I knew I’d found my way to give back."
    Yun Hui's Story
  • Bridging the Gap Alum

    Rahmet's Story

    "Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap provided the essential support I needed to work toward my goals. When my family could not be there for me due to their own difficult circumstances, Bridging the Gap staff walked alongside me and showed me what a community of support looks like."
    Rahmet's Story
  • 211 Caller and Now 211 Resource Navigator

    Laura's Story

    "14 years ago, I was a 17-year-old single mom of 2 kids, living in a studio with a job but no extra money for utilities or Christmas gifts. When I called 2-1-1, a Navigator gave me resources to pay my utilities as well as help with Christmas gifts...After the call, I realized the Navigator gave me something much more than resources. She gave me hope."
    Laura's Story
  • United for Business Client

    Lis' Story

    "United for Business has been super helpful for some time. When COVID hit, they brought resources and help, they’ve always been here. And now, we’re purchasing a new business, and they’ve been a big, big support. They’ve helped us with everything – the valuation of the business, the attorney, every step."
    Lis' Story
  • Mile High United Way Volunteer

    Maryanne's Story

    "I volunteer with Mile High United Way because I care about living in a vibrant community. United Way allows me to utilize the talents I am blessed with to help people connect with services and support that help them thrive. When people thrive, so does our community as a whole."
    Maryanne's Story
Tax Help Volunteer Nancy Diaz is pictured holding a certificate recognizing her contributions to the free tax assistance program. Joining her is Kristin Hubbard, Program Manager for Tax Help Colorado.

Share Your Story

We want to hear from you! Join us in celebrating this milestone year by sharing how Mile High United Way has impacted you.

Creating a stronger, more resilient community is only possible when we are united. A gift to Mile High United Way provides immediate wraparound support to families while building pathways to long-term success. Your gift changes lives.
Thank you to our corporate partners for sponsoring 135 years of impact in our Metro Denver community.
1975
Mile High United Fund Becomes Mile High United Way

Mile High United Way is established as the official organization name following multiple name changes throughout its 88-year history.

1985
Mile High United Way Drafts New Mission Statement & Strategic Plan

Mile High United Way is one of six national United Ways to introduce long-range planning, which leads to a new mission statement and comprehensive strategic plan.

1994
First School Readiness Initiative Created

Ready to Succeed is the first of a succession of innovative programs focused on quality early childhood services. Other future initiatives include the nation’s first childcare rating system Qualistar Colorado.

1994
First Youth Success Initiative Launches for Middle School Students

Mile High United Way establishes the Neighborhood Center Project, an after-school program for middle school students, ensuring positive youth development and academic success. Learn more about our education and literacy work today

1999
Mile High United Way Celebrates Women in Philanthropy

Mile High United Way Women’s Leadership Luncheon becomes a major annual event. What is known today as the Women United Luncheon brings together hundreds of attendees each year, including community leaders, elected officials, and nationally renowned speakers. Learn more about Women United

2000
211 Begins Taking Calls
211 Began in 2000- Mile High United Way Historical Photos

United Way, in partnership with the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, successfully petitions the Federal Communications Commission to designate 211 for health and human services information and referral. The Mile High United Way 211 Help Center is established. Learn more about 211

2004
The Bridging the Gap Program is Established
Participants in Mile High United Way's Bridging the Gap program in Metro Denver, a support program young adults exiting the child welfare system.

Mile High United Way expands youth success initiatives with Bridging the Gap, a program providing opportunities for young adults who are transitioning out of the child welfare system. Learn more about Bridging the Gap

2005
Partnering with Denver’s Road Home

Mile High United Way and Denver’s Road Home, an initiative of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, work together to support a wide range of programs to help people experiencing homelessness.

2008
Christine Benero Appointed CEO

Christine Benero is named president and CEO of Mile High United Way. Learn more about Christine

2010
211 Goes Statewide
2-1-1 resource navigator

Mile High United Way expands the 211 infrastructure to serve individuals and families throughout Colorado. Learn more about 211 Colorado

2012
Mile High United Way Receives Grant to Promote Children’s Early Literacy

The organization celebrates its 125th anniversary with a $3.6 million Social Innovation Fund grant to help children access early literacy resources and programs. The grant is a partnership with Literacy Week and Lieutenant Governor Joseph Garcia’s office. Learn  more about our early childhood education work today

2014
The Morgridge Center for Community Change Opens

The Mile High United Way team moves into their new 63,000-square-foot building in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood, which includes walk-in service for the first time, the 211 Help Center, and a conference space available for nonprofit partners.

2017
Fund Established to Increase Affordable Housing

A group of funders, including Mile High United Way, launches Elevation Community Land Trust, a $25 million fund to secure more than 700 affordable homes for low-income families. Learn more about our affordable housing work today. 

2019
Helping Homeowners Facing Hardship

The Temporary Mortgage Assistance Program, in collaboration with Mile High United Way’s 211 Call Center, is established to provide households up to two months or $5,000 maximum to cover mortgage payments if they are facing hardship due to unexpected changes in their employment status.

2019
Mile High United Way and Foothills United Way Join Forces

Mile High United Way and Foothills United Way, which serves the Boulder/Broomfield region, combine to expand their reach and their ability to serve more individuals and families. Mile High United Way now serves Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties.

2020
The COVID-19 Pandemic Hits Colorado

Mile High United Way rallies to support Coloradans when COVID-19 closes schools and businesses worldwide:

Administering the Colorado COVID Relief Fund on behalf of the state

The 211 Help Center identifies and helps distribute millions of dollars in Rapid Response Funding to organizations helping residents meet immediate, basic needs

Establishing the Keep the Lights on Fund in partnership with other agencies to ensure the survival of childcare providers across Colorado.

2020
Denver’s First Mobile Preschool Hits the Road
Mile High United Way and Right On Mobile Education launched the first ever mobile preschool in the City and County of Denver to expand access to early childhood education in the Globeville and Elyria Swansea neighborhoods.

Mile High United Way and Right on Mobile Education launch a mobile preschool, which operates in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods. This innovative initiative expands access to quality education to Denver families. Learn more about the mobile preschool

2020
Mile High United Way Receives Transformational Gift

MacKenzie Scott donates $20 million to Mile High United Way to support the organization’s impactful work serving Colorado children and families in the seven-county Metro Denver Area. It is the largest single donation in the organization’s history. Learn more

2022
Five Organizations Receive $8 Million Community Investment

Mile High United Way announces an investment of $8 million in five transformational community projects. The projects are Mile High United Way’s Bridging the Gap program, Warren Village, Mercy Housing, Lifespan Local, and Family Tree. The investment is possible because of the MacKenzie Scott donation in 2020. Learn more

2022
New Child Care Center Breaks Ground
Groundbreaking of The Rose on Colfax with Mayor Hancock and Christine Benero

Mile High United Way, Mercy Housing Mountain Plains, the City and County of Denver, and others celebrate the groundbreaking of The Rose on Colfax. The new, mixed-use development will have 82 affordable homes and will be home to the Mile High United Way Early Childhood Education Center. Watch Video

Our Story Continues...