Who we are

The United Way of Southeast Missouri fights for the health, education and financial stability of everyone in the communities we serve: Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Scott City, Perry County and Bollinger County. Over the years our business model has evolved from being a Community Chest offering emergency help in times of need to focusing on Community Impact. We have moved from merely collecting and distributing funds to identifying solutions and working with others to create change.

In the past we funded ‘safety net’ services and individual organizations. Now we bring together and financially support a network of community programs, services and resources that work together to create lasting change in the lives of people in our community. With your help, we make our community stronger and better for everyone.

Become a part of our mission. Join our team or see our volunteer opportunities.

United Way Through the Years

The United Way of Southeast Missouri evolved as a result of people wanting to find a more effective and community-wide approach to care for one another. People in Southeast Missouri are known for their caring spirit, a value as important today as it was in 1953 when community leaders first worked together to raise community funds. United Way of Southeast Missouri continues to evolve, while supporting the three key areas that have the greatest impact on success in life: Education, Income and Health. As we continue to raise funds to change lives, the organization and volunteers who lead United Way work hard to communicate the need in our community to those who can help meet it. Since 1953, United Way of Southeast Missouri has collected funds from concerned individuals who want to make a difference. In the first years, we raised $290,065.00. Now, in the last year alone, we have raised more than $525,183.50.

2000 - 2010

2015: Elizabeth Shelton, a Cape Girardeau native with international corporate communications experience, becomes Director of UWSEMO.

2008: United Way of America announces 10-year specific goals involving the focus areas Education, Income & Health. Locally, UWSEMO developed relevant goals based on local statistics, allocating funds based on achievement and using online databases to measure results.

2007: UWSEMO began evaluating and funding individual programs instead of the agency as a whole. Specific, measurable goals and reporting requirements were set for funded partners.

2004: The name United Way of Southeast Missouri was adopted to better reflect our geographical footprint.

2000: United Way began measuring the success of its funded partners, and created a network of local expertise.

1990 - 1999

1995: Nancy Jernigan became Executive Director of United Way and began a 19-year career that launched Read to Succeed, the Community Impact model, Graces (now Women United), and many more initiatives that continue to help our community.

1980 - 1989

1984: The United Way of Cape Girardeau merged with the Jackson Community Chest and changed its name to Area Wide United Way.

1981: Harry Rediger and Donald Strohmeyer were named new officers in the 1981 Campaign.

1970 - 1979

1979: Dorothy Klein succeeded J. Hugh Logan and became the Director.

1973: J. Hugh Logan was hired as Campaign Director.

1971: United Way fund campaign goal was topped for the fourth time in 15-year history.

1970: The United Fund was renamed The United Way of Cape Girardeau.

1960 - 1969

1969: Maurice Dunklin was named Chairman of the United Fund Campaign.

1950 - 1959

1954: President Rehg acted on this suggestion. The survey results' recommendation was that the community was ready, and the Chamber of Commerce, Retail Merchants Association, and the Junior Chamber of Commerce established a Board of Directors. The first Campaign was held in 1954 with Clyde Harris as Campaign Chairman. The goal was set at $49,500.

1953: The President of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce, Arnold Roth, recommended to the incoming president of the Chamber, Leonard Rehg, that a survey be conducted to see if it was feasible to establish a United Fund in Cape Girardeau.

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United Way is grateful to our sponsors