United Way of San Diego County

aka UWSD   |   San Diego, CA   |


The mission of United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) is to spark breakthrough community action that elevates every child and family toward a brighter future. UWSD has been serving the San Diego community for over 100 years—a century full of experience, relationships, and impact. We align with partners countywide to develop innovative collaborations with school districts, the business community, the public sector, and nonprofit organizations. We leverage data, continuous learning, and evidence-based best practices to uncover the best ways to support families and children.

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?

United For Literacy: Strong Start, Strong Readers San Diego

UWSD is launching United for Literacy: Strong Start, Strong Readers San Diego (United for Literacy), which focuses on increasing literacy for young learners. The purpose is to align community partners and diverse stakeholders to establish long term results for early learners. United for Literacy seeks to engage families, create literacy-rich environments, quality early childhood education centers, strong preschool literacy instruction, train qualified educators, and participate in advocacy and public information around the importance of early literacy. The outcome will be a more coordinated collective impact effort to improve outcomes in the future.

United for Literacy’s goal is to advance Kindergarten readiness, strengthen preschool literacy skills, and improve social, emotional, and early language development in toddlers and pre-school aged children.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Over 60% of local jobs require a post-secondary education. Preparation for college must begin in high school to give adequate time to foster student interest in essential fields. BIPOC make up only 5% of the STEAM workforce, with less than 20% BIPOC students studying STEAM in college.

UWSD's STEAM-to-Careers initiative is an afterschool extended learning program tailored to meet the needs of low-income high school students in Escondido and Southeast San Diego. Each region hosts two 10-week cycles that consist of curricula in fields including engineering, healthcare, financial literacy, and multimedia. At the conclusion of the academic year, students participate in paid work-based learning opportunities as a part of our summer programming to gain further insight into STEAM career pathways and opportunities. After completing the program, students have a better understanding of how to pursue a career in STEAM and have made valuable connections to local San Diego employers.

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 of San Diego County builds stronger children and families. Last year, the United Way-led EITC tax coalition brought over $38 million in total state and federal refunds back to our county. Now, we look to launch two SparkPoint Centers in San Diego County to further assist low-income households access financial services to develop self-sufficiency. Financial stress is the number one reported stressor among Americans, putting individuals at risk for diseases such as depression, anxiety, and excessive alcohol and drug use. SparkPoint Centers help clients navigate financial management, easing mental stress and its repercussions.

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

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 make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, 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 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


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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  • 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 10/16/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Jacob Richards

California Bank & Trust

Term: 2022 -

Gil Johnson

Procurement Concepts, Inc

Alexis Gutierrez

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP

Gordon Wiens

Bank of America

Jacob M. Richards

California Bank & Trust

Paul Rash

Wells Fargo

Mark Corley

Monticello Vineyards

Derek Danziger

Katz & Associates

Helen Griffith

The Preuss School UC San Diego

Javier Iglesias

US Bank

Crystal Irving

SEIU Local 221

Ricky Shabazz

San Diego City College

Patrick Stewart

Library Foundation SD

Leslie Oliver

Solar Turbines, Inc.

Michael Woitkoski

The Wealth Consulting Group

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 10/16/2023

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
Asian/Asian American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


No data