United Way of San Diego County

aka UWSD   |   San Diego, CA   |


We strengthen our community when we align with partners and leverage our resources to transform lives. Since 1920, UWSD has worked in alignment with partners to address inequities in our region and help undeserved communities. The challenge is identifying the sustainable, long-term goals we want to achieve and reaching them together. UWSD leverages the use of data and our partners' expertise to better understand root causes, and put impactful solutions into action. Our work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation, and proven practices to resolve inequities and transform the lives of children, young adults, and families in the San Diego region.

Ruling year info


President & CEO

Ms. Nancy L. Sasaki

Main address

4699 Murphy Canyon Road

San Diego, CA 92123 USA

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NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (W12)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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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?

Cradle to Career: Early Grade Literacy

In 2016, nearly half of San Diego’s third graders weren’t reading at grade level. Children who can’t read well by the end of third grade are 4x less likely to finish high school on time.

Reading at grade level and everyday attendance are powerful predictors of future achievement. United Way targets these nationally recognized indicators to make sure children are in school every day and keeping pace with reading goals for their age group. Last year, improved attendance resulted in 670 more days of school for local students. And 86% of our reading intervention students maintained or improved their reading scores.

Research points to third grade reading as a pivot point— when children go from learning to read to reading to learn. Students who miss too much school in the early grades (18 days or more a year) fall behind in reading and have difficulty catching up. Reading and attendance are inextricably linked: they significantly impact a child’s academic future as well as the local economy: income for a high school drop out in 2014 was $24,000, compared to $52,000 for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Our reading and attendance interventions are two of the ways we’re addressing early grade literacy for our students and ensuring that they stay on track to succeed.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

As of this year, over 60% of local jobs require some level of post-secondary education. Degrees have never been more important, and preparation for college or career must begin in high school to prepare students for real-world careers.

By getting our students workplace experience in high school, they learn skills that align with local employers’ needs. United Way acts as a bridge between the K-12 system and a high-skill, high-demand, high-wage careers. In 2017, we coordinated 23,626 real-world, work-based experiences between high school and community college students and hundreds of San Diego businesses, preparing our young people for success in the local workforce.

But many of our students aren’t prepared, and they’re missing local opportunities: a recent San Diego Chamber of Commerce report found that a lack of qualified workers is the main obstacle for local hiring. Unless local workers get the qualification the labor market needs, more than 29,000 jobs will remain unfilled in top middle-skill jobs annually.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Young adults

Nearly half of all San Diego children live in households struggling to make ends meet.

By supporting low-income households when times get tough, United Way builds stronger children and families. Last year, the United Way-led EITC tax coalition brought $40 million in total state and federal refunds back to our county. We also assisted 34,887 local families, including support with tax filing, mortgage or rent, utilities, food, and more.

Our support is critical to families that are unable to meet basic needs; it impacts their daily lives as well as their children’s futures. Without resources and access to opportunities, many children from low-income households start school 60% behind their more affluent peers.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

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.

At United Way our goal is to build a vibrant community with opportunity for everyone and to ensure that every child and family has a bright future. We expend our financial and non-financial resources on ensuring that underserved children have the opportunity for academic achievement and their families have increased financial stability and the access to health care and other resources that enable their children to reach their full potential. Only in this way will a child have success and be able to obtain a self-sufficient job that will sustain the next generation of families in our community.

We do this work because transforming children into educated, independent adults is the job of the entire community. Our work is focused on providing children and their families with the supports they need to succeed by partnering with a diverse group of community stakeholders from government to community based organizations to school districts. We work outside the classroom, removing barriers, providing resources and skills training so schools and teachers can do their best work inside the classroom. United Way coordinates and drives diverse efforts and harnesses them to support youth and their families before, during and after school - from cradle to career.

We know a child's academic success depends on a foundation of family stability. In light of that, we support job development and workforce training; ensuring that individuals will acquire a job that supports a family. With one in three families in San Diego County unable to make ends meet, providing help to working parents is a critical part of creating a stronger community. United Way knows that by building financially strong families, children are given the support and tools they need to succeed in school.

In order to support families in our community, we have adopted the practice of 'Collective Impact' – a unique, proven and replicable approach to community problem solving that includes all sectors to work together to find new and innovative ways to address social challenges and develop lasting solutions. By bringing together businesses, government, schools, churches, foundations and nonprofit organizations to focus on an agreed upon common agenda and using data and community voice to inform decision making, and incorporating a culture of continuous improvement – significant community change can be made.

We have adopted a Collective Impact framework to accomplish our goals and we are realigning existing resources rather than creating new programs and services. Collective Impact is a nationally proven business framework that demonstrates how to create unique, systemic and sustainable community change. It harnesses the commitment of individuals and entities from multiple sectors to create a common agenda for solving specific social problems. We have unified these stakeholders - schools, government, funders, community organizations and citizens to move from isolated support systems and programs to an aligned approach that supports healthy productive lives for families and children.

We use the proven principles of Collective Impact - a common agenda, shared goals and measurement, ongoing communication, data tracking and a commitment to continuous improvement. Using the Collective Impact framework United Way is able to focus on essential functions currently lacking in much of our civic infrastructure:

• Creation of a shared and coordinated data driven strategy among community stakeholders with community residents at the center
• Systemic accountability and transparency: internal and in the larger community
• Advocacy: on the ground, in policy and for funding

We focus our efforts on the point of intersection between the data and the lived experience of community residents and partners that we serve. We act as the convener. In this critical role we give existing services, partners, families and their children the chance to align and assemble efforts where they can efficiently and effectively change conditions making sure fragmented work is aligned and that goals are based on data, community voice and results.

We use the proven framework of Collective Impact which gives us access to all of the resources, tools and collective knowledge of this model. We learn from others across the country using this model and are able to adapt practices to the specific needs of our community. Our partners at San Diego State University, Point Loma Nazarene University, Cal State San Marcos, San Diego Unified School District and the cities of San Diego, Vista and Chula Vista, among others, all bring extensive expertise, knowledge and authenticity to our work.

We have realigned our organizational infrastructure to support our Collective Impact work ensuring that our staff competencies are best aligned to bring to results our work in the community.

United Way of San Diego is at the national forefront of listening to the community and including what is learned in strategy development and implementation. Based in practices learned at The Harwood Institute, over the last three years, United Way has been conducting community conversations to hear directly from the community the aspirations they have for themselves and their children and what barriers and challenges are preventing them from reaching these goals.

This invaluable information is then added to the quantitative data that we have acquired. We are driven by data, informed by research and confirmed by the community. To this end, we identify areas in which our community's aspirations intersect with the research and data.

The community conversation process is a tool that is used in an on-going and continuous manner to constantly verify that our methods and strategies are representative of the community's ever evolving needs. Engagement and solicitation of community voice are an integrated piece of the way we do our work.

Accomplished in 2013
• 600 families received toolkits to increase their child's readiness for Kindergarten
• 3,357 youth, parents and teachers were provided information or training to improve reading proficiency
• 97,000 books and literacy materials were distributed
• 26% increase in reading proficiency for participating 1st-3rd graders
• 2868 youth and adults served; 82% showed positive change in financial knowledge, behavior and skills
• 192 veterans developed skills and trained for careers; 100% job placement rate
• 33% of immigrant clients reduced their public assistance by an average of $506
• 68,956 clients were educated and given access to support services, like food, rent and utility assistance
• 514 improved their financial situation and reduced dependence on public benefits
• 45 girls in the juvenile detention system learned to write a resume, set financial goal and interviewing skills
• At 69 VITA sites, tax refunds totaled $28562254; 48486 returns completed; 3447 clients were screened for benefits


United Way of San Diego County

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


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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

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United Way of San Diego County

Board of directors
as of 06/13/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Tony Russell

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Term: 2020 -

Thomas Lemmon

San Diego County Building & Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO

Charlene Dackerman

Links Healthcare Group, LLC

Rebecca Smith

Point Loma Nazarene University

Gil Johnson

Procurement Concepts, Inc

Alexis Gutierrez

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP

Kian Saneii

Independa, Inc.

Kenneth Weixel

Deloitte & Touche LLP

Gordon Wiens

Bank of America

Jacob M. Richards

California Bank & Trust

David R. Andrews

National University

Megan Blair

San Diego Public Library Foundation

Stephanie R. Bulger

San Diego Community College District

Ka'eo Griffin


Wendy Hunter

Girard/San Diego Pediatricians Children's Primary Care Medical Group

Keith Maddox

San Diego Labor Council

Paul Rash

Wells Fargo

Jennifer Roane

U.S. Bank

Tony R. Russell

San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

Matt Sager

Solar Turbines, Incorporated

Rachel Williams


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? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/22/2021

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
Asian/Asian American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data