A Connected Community Changes Everything

Chattanooga, TN   |


United Way of Greater Chattanooga envisions a community where all individuals and families achieve their full human potential through education, stability and health & well-being.

Ruling year info



Mrs. Lesley Scearce

Main address

630 Market Street

Chattanooga, TN 37402 USA

Show more contact info



NTEE code info

Human Service Organizations (P20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2023, 2023 and 2022.
Register now


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Since 1922, United Way of Greater Chattanooga (UWGC) has been uniting people and resources to build a stronger, healthier community. We envision a community where all people achieve their full human potential through education, stability, and health and well-being. By uniting people and resources, we are actively closing the gap between our vision and reality of impact alongside our volunteers, community partners, and UWGC employees. Our team serves a 15-county region across Tennessee, north Georgia, and north Alabama. In 2022, UWGC completed a nine-month-long exploratory learning and strategic planning process which focused our efforts on reducing disparities for children living in households experiencing financial hardship and building upward mobility across our six-county footprint in SE Tennessee. What does that look like in our day-to-day work? UWGC supports and partners with organizations that serve ALICE families, those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employ

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Community Investment

Community Investments: After a strategic three-year transition, our new funding model officially launched in 2022. This impactful annual community investment process provides annual grants to organizations driving impact and addressing our community’s interconnected challenges focused on education, stability, and health and wellbeing. UWGC offers an open, inclusive, and competitive funding model that supports on-the-ground nonprofit partners in Hamilton, Sequatchie, Marion, Walker, Dade, and Catoosa counties. In the 2022-2023 cycle, UWGC supported on-the-ground nonprofit partners in six counties through 62 grants across 37 unique agencies with more than $4.4 million in investments.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Economically disadvantaged people

211: A free, vital, and confidential service that connects community members in need with local resources. Our 211 team serves people day-in and day-out. With a variety of ways to get connected, 211 is one of the greatest assets we have at our disposal. In 2022, our 211 staff team of nine responded to more than 55,000 requests through both calls and texts. Of those requests, community members most often needed help with food insecurity, utility assistance, housing and shelter, with the majority needing rental assistance. We average 2,000 requests for help each week, and we project that we’ll receive a total of more than 100,000 total calls to 211 in 2023. Our 211 work is growing rapidly and support from the community makes it possible.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Corporate and Community Engagement: Through workplace collaborations, community mobilization, and volunteer recruitment and coordination, we help equip those who want to help make a change with the right tools and opportunities. Our Engagement Groups offer events, conversations, and specific volunteer opportunities for groups like Emerging Leaders, Women United, the Leadership Circle, and the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. We bring generous, community-minded donors, volunteers, and leaders together to build collective impact for the Chattanooga region. The Volunteer Center offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Through our volunteer engagement tool, ihelpchattanooga, we connect people with regional volunteer opportunities that fit their needs and preferences. More than 19,000 volunteers have registered with us, and our teams completed 665 volunteerism projects in 2022, an inspiring community-wide including Day of Caring.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


The Best Place for Working Parents® 2023 Businesses 2023

Best Places for Working Families

Affiliations & memberships

United Way WorldWide 2023

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of website pageviews

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

In the 2022 calendar year, United Way of Greater Chattanooga had a total of 90,288 page views. Our top three pages were our home page, our 211 helpline page, and our team page.

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Last year1,545 individual volunteers donated 4,613 hours, impacting nearly every part of our community. Note, 2022 was an unusual year, 100th anniversary with many volunteer projects.

Number of groups/individuals benefiting from tools/resources/education materials provided

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

Our 211 team answered 98,264 requests for help in 2023, and helped 5,257 people begin their journey to permanent, supportive housing.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The Chattanooga regional economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the nation – yet it is among the worst in the country for economic mobility. Almost half of the children live in households that can’t afford basic needs. This alarming data comes from a measure called ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. We use this data to understand the financial hardship of our neighbors so we can help close these critical gaps. We must work toward long-term stability for both parents and children in our community.

What is ALICE?
ALICE stands for asset limited, income constrained, and employed. Households that fall under ALICE face different levels of financial strain and access to essential resources that make it difficult to afford basic necessities, despite being employed and hard-working. These households face hard choices such as putting food on the table or paying the light bill every single day.

What’s the research?
Since first investing in the ALICE research several years ago along with United Ways across Tennessee, we have relied on this extensive body of work to help guide our community investments, programs, and advocacy work. By sharing our research publicly, we hope our community partners will reference the ALICE reports for their own decision-making that impacts working households every day.

For 2022-2025, these are United Way of Greater Chattanooga's strategic priorities:

Priority #1 - Determine disparities affecting the region’s children through a comprehensive needs assessment. Completed 2023

Priority #2 - Build a data-driven organization, internally and externally. In progress.

Priority #3 - Begin a major transformation of our revenue model. In progress

Priority #4 - Brand Dominance and Strength. In progress

Priority #1 Strategies:

● Complete needs assessment and asset/resource mapping
● Primary focus is transformational work focused on reducing disparities for households with children in financial distress.
● Catalyze substantial local employers to invest in working families to advance opportunities and reduce stressors on these households
● Continue crisis response work thru 211 and expanded Bridge Funds.
● Become the recognized lifeline to essential services to our service area especially for households in financial hardship that include children.

Priority #2 Strategies:

● Be the reliable and transparent source of real-time data for community partners and our internal strategies and decision-making needs.
● Commit to data-informed strategy, both internally and externally, for collective community action, giving and advocacy.
● Use our data expertise to expand our impact, grow our campaign, and tell stories to engage more people in this work across the community.

Priority #3 Strategies:

● Begin moving our donor base to an impact mindset rather than a transactional approach..
● Grow our endowment so that it can fund more operating budget and therefore increase community investments.
● Intentionally grow our current efforts to apply for and win large grants from government and national funders that could help alleviate disparities in our community.
● Engage employers in new and innovative ways that help workplace donors understand our impact and further their connection to our work.

Priority #4

● Invest in resources to ensure best in class marketing, communications and engagement.
● Redefine what it means to be a philanthropist in our community.
● Equip and encourage volunteers to advocate for UWGC priorities

At United Way, we don’t just say we are an open book, we mean it. We also know who we are as an organization and what matters. As a result, we developed unique and easy-to-live-by values that guide us – everyone on our team both staff and volunteer knows these words and puts them to work every day:

• Impact is our business. Our value is more than money. We build relationships that go beyond the transaction to transform our community.
• Live United, not divided. Seek to understand before being understood. Respect differences. Celebrate diversity. Lead with intentionality. Build an equitable community together.
• Think we before me. Prioritize team and community over self. Lead with a servant's heart. Always consider how your actions impact others. Our task is too big to do alone and too important not to do together.
• Own it. Be accountable for your actions. Lead others by your example. Grow your emotional self-awareness to build relationships that foster trust and respect.
• Challenge the process. Always seek a breakthrough to a better way. Stand ready to pivot if needed to seize opportunities for improvement.
• Be the stretch. Learn continuously. Cultivate growth in your colleagues and community by going beyond what you think you can do.

These values and our focus on being transparent and open play out in our work every day. For example, in 2023, United Way received Candid/Guidestar’s Gold Seal for Transparency. While this is a real achievement in sharing information with donors, constituents, and the broader community, we’re just not satisfied and have begun work to obtain a Platinum Seal for Transparency by the end of the year. Also in 2023, United Way was named one of the Best Places for Working Parents. As we launched our United for Working Families focus in 2023, our goal was to lead by example and build the most family-friendly practices we could. That has come to fruition over the last year and culminated with the Best Places designation earlier this year. Our staff team now finds a benefits package built around their needs, to keep them working, to keep their families taken care of, and to build longevity in careers at United Way. We’ve watched turnover plummet and job satisfaction grow quickly over the last year… and we’re just getting started!

In the last year, United Way provided the following services to our community, building on a 100-year legacy of human-centered impact. In terms of key metrics, our staff and volunteer team:

• Answered 62,790 calls through our 211 help line.
• Helped 5,257 people begin their journey to permanent housing through our housing line.
• Added two bilingual navigators to our 211 team, who served 1,032 Spanish speaking callers.
• Funded 62 nonprofits with $4.4 million through our community investments grants.
• Provided 116,000 individuals more than 203,000 services from our funded partners, up 22%.
• Connected 1,035 volunteers to nonprofit projects through our iHelp platform.
• Distributed $340,000 to 805 neighbors from our Bridge Fund for things like rent, utilities, and car repairs to keep our neighbors housed and working.
• Launched our Learn United Conversation Series and engaged 310 community members in meaningful connections during a time of increased polarization.
• Engaged more than 2,000 nonprofit staff and volunteers to build capacity, and foster connection.
• Launched United for Working Families initiative to build family-friendly policies across the community.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We share the feedback we received with the people we serve, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve



Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.


Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 02/21/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Jay Dale






















Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/8/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/01/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.