Our History

For nearly 100 years, United Way of the Plains has helped the people of south central Kansas thrive.

The United Way movement begins

The United Way movement began in 1887 in Denver, Colo., when religious leaders founded the Charity Organizations Society which planned and coordinated local services and conducted a single fundraising campaign for 22 agencies. In 1913, the nation’s first modern Community Chest was born in Cleveland where a program for allocating campaign funds was developed.

Community Chests

From 1919 to 1929, communities across America began establishing Community Chests which would later be known as United Funds and now United Ways.

Wichita Community Chest Begins

It was during this time that United Way of the Plains began as the Wichita Community Chest in 1922. The Wichita Chamber of Commerce had recommended that the organization be established to coordinate funding of 25 local social service agencies. The Wichita Community Chest raised and distributed $183,296 that first year.

Same Mission, New Names

From 1943 – 1946, the name was temporarily changed to Community War Chest.

From 1946 – 1957, the Red Feather was adopted as a symbol of member agencies. Campaigns were often referred to as Red Feather Campaigns.

In 1957 the name was changed to United Fund of Wichita and Sedgwick County.

In 1975, the name, United Way of Wichita and Sedgwick County, was adopted.

The name changed again in 1987 to the current name, United Way of the Plains.

In Dec. 2019, Cowley County United Way merged into United Way of the Plains.


Learn more about what we do, check our Frequently Asked Questions, or contact us today at (316) 267‑1321.