Sponsored by United Way of Metropolitan Chicago

As I packed away my summer clothes and traded them for thick sweaters and scarves, I found a plain white t-shirt emblazoned with blocky black text: LIVE UNITED.

United Way t-shirts are iconic—you may have one tucked in your own closet—but just what does it mean to Live United? I thought the same thing as I stacked it with the rest of my tees. I’ve volunteered for United Way for years on Days of Caring, but I still couldn’t give you a concise elevator pitch.

After a bit of my own curious digging (and packing procrastination) I found out why: United Way’s mission is too big for an elevator pitch. In Chicagoland alone, United Way brings together 4,600 volunteers, 825 corporate partners, 300 programs and more than $55 million every year to affect meaningful change in the lives of nearly 2 million people.

Ines Vuckovic / Dose

That’s a lot of numbers, so let’s break it down.

Along with their contributors, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago helps four main areas: education, income, health and basic needs.

Ines Vuckovic / Dose

Each area focuses on bringing meaningful, measurable change to individual neighborhoods. In their most recent push, Live United 2020, they set goals that improved the lives of tons of Chicagoland families. They:

  • Helped more than 50,000 under-performing middle school students prepare for high school success
  • Improved the financial stability of more than 100,000 families
  • Connected more than 200,000 with quality healthcare
  • Assisted the immediate crisis needs of 1 million people each year

These are amazingly ambitious goals for one organization to tackle in 9 years. But here’s the secret: They’re not exactly just one organization.

In fact, UWMC unites nearly 200 Chicago organizations on a hyper-local level, pooling all available resources to help and invest in each neighborhood.

Ines Vuckovic / Dose

After 80 years of doing so, United Way knows the key to success is banding smaller groups together to affect large-scale change.

This holiday season, UWMC wants you to be a part of a movement toward positive change. No matter how small your contribution, whether it’s a $10 donation, a day of volunteering or a written letter, together we can drastically improve the lives of individuals, families and neighborhoods in need.