About United Way of Deschutes County

United Way of Deschutes County is a Central Oregon-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by a local Board of Directors, community leaders, and volunteers. Established in 1953, we have been building stronger individuals, families, and communities for 65 years by investing in the most needed programs and services while simultaneously strengthening our community. This 2017-2018 fiscal year, our community and workplace fundraising goal is $1.5 million to be spent benefiting Central Oregonians.

We have recently undergone significant change in our focus, approach, and community investment strategy. We have adopted reducing childhood trauma, also known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), and building resilience as our top priorities. Trauma leads to physical, mental, and behavioral problems later in life. Resilience means having the skills, perspectives, relationships, and support to manage hardships, cope with stress, and bounce back. Some funds raised in this year’s campaign will be directed towards this social change work. By focusing on trauma and resilience, the nonprofit is addressing root causes of challenges in education, health, and financial stability that face our community.

Education, health, and financial stability are the foundation of opportunity and success, along with basic needs like food, safety, and shelter. This is why, in addition to social change initiatives, funds raised in this campaign will also support United Way’s ongoing traditional investments in basic needs, which make up our community’s safety net, and prevention and development, which strengthen our community.

Our new community investment and grantmaking strategy aligns with these goals. We work alongside Community Impact Partners – local nonprofits that applied for and received United Way grants through a competitive RFP process – on basic needs, prevention and development, and resilience initiatives that create social change. We will continue our long tradition of protecting our region’s most vulnerable populations, and augment that by working with other organizations to address deeper community issues. So far this year, we granted $250,000 to 21 local Community Impact Partner nonprofits. Those grants were in 3 categories: Community Transformation (social change, ACEs, and resilience), Community Strengthening (prevention & development), and Community Safety Net (basic needs).

We have also added incubator, convener, and collaborator to our role in addressing the needs of our community. One example of our incubator and accelerator work is the TRACES Initiative, which is an acronym for Trauma, Resilience, and ACEs. TRACES is a consortium of Central Oregon organizations and government agencies that have a shared interest in addressing childhood trauma as a root cause of health, education, and financial stability issues in our community. The group has been organized to develop a community-wide strategy and shared metrics to build resilience in our community, to address ACEs, and to promote health and well-being using the collective impact model.

United Way is investing in future solutions to the problems that we have historically addressed through funding, such as basic needs, safety net, and prevention. While we will continue to address issues that are happening right now, we are simultaneously moving upstream to address the root causes of issues that are immediate today so they don’t exist tomorrow. Funding the immediate issues is necessary, but not sufficient.

Building on tradition and assuming a strong role in convening and collaborating with the community allows United Way to address root causes of critical issues affecting our community. United Way of Deschutes County remains focused on our community’s human and social service needs to improve lives and create measurable, sustained change in our community.


  • Take-Aide: Free tax preparation assistance program
  • Central Oregon 211: Connecting people to needed services
  • FamilyWize: Free prescription discount card program
  • Thrive Central Oregon: Connects individual needs with community resources