Together, we are possibility.

History & Background


A History of Being There

United Way Centraide has a long history in Canada, which originally began in 1917. Over the years we have been known by many names – among them Community Chest, United Appeal and Red Feather. We are proud that our organizations have brought together diverse and caring people in our communities.

Our national office was created in 1939, as a program division of the Canadian Welfare Council led by Charlotte Whitton, an influential feminist, municipal leader, and companion of the Order of Canada.

In 1972 prominent designer Saul Bass created the iconic United Way logo, depicting the helping hand cradling mankind and surrounded by a rainbow symbolizing hope. He did such a fantastic job that we still use it today. Also in 1972, we established an independent corporate structure with greater capacity for long-term strategic leadership.

Canada’s national office officially became known as United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada in 1976, recognizing the bilingual nature of Canada’s culture and language. Our office achieved yet another important milestone in 2003 when a strategic alignment exercise led us to adopt a new Canada-wide mission, which we call for short our Community Impact mission.

New Times, New Challenges

In 2011, growing on our Community Impact mission, the national office, now named, United Way Centraide Canada introduced a new brand, enabling United Ways Centraides across the country to speak with one voice and to demonstrate with consistency how we stand for lasting, measureable change. As part of this process, we clarified three priority areas of focus for United Ways Centraides across Canada, which are outcomes based: From poverty to possibility; Strong communities; and All that kids can be.