What We Do

Before COVID-19, one-third of all Franklin County residents could not meet basic needs and even more were a crisis away from falling into poverty. Today, we know low-income families are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. Over half of Ohio’s low-income households reported a loss of employment income over the past year. While students in low-income households faced more barriers to remote learning, including lack of broadband access and available equipment. 

United Way of Central Ohio is focused on fighting poverty by investing in the most effective partners that get results. This network of more than 90 local nonprofit partners provide opportunities and resources in two critical areas:

  • Basic Needs

    Ensuring people in crisis get food, shelter and assistance.

  • Student Success

    Helping children succeed from cradle to career.


Basic Needs

Ensuring people in crisis get food, shelter and assistance.

did you know?

1 in 3 central Ohioans lacks the income to meet basic needs without assistance.

2,000 young adults in central Ohio are homeless.


  • Affordable Housing Alliance of Central Ohio
  • American Red Cross of Greater Columbus
  • Catholic Social Services
  • Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio
  • CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Clintonville-Beechwold CRC
  • Columbus Urban League
  • Community Development for All People
  • Community Kitchen
  • Community Shelter Board
  • Equitas
  • Furniture Bank of Central Ohio
  • Gladden Community House
  • HandsOn Central Ohio
  • Homeport
  • Huckleberry House, Inc.
  • Legal Aid Society of Columbus
  • LifeCare Alliance
  • Local Matters
  • Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio
  • Mental Health America of Franklin Ohio
  • Mid-Ohio Foodbank
  • OhioHealth I AM
  • OSU Moms2B
  • The Salvation Army
  • Serving Our Neighbors Ministries
  • Stable Families
  • Star House
  • YMCA of Central Ohio
  • YWCA Columbus

Achieving Results:


Student Success

Helping children succeed from cradle to career.

did you know?

The poverty rate and the unemployment rate for people who do not have a High School diploma is twice as high as for people who have graduated.

72% of disadvantaged preschoolers in Franklin County struggle to learn the skills needed for kindergarten.


  • Action for Children
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbus
  • Central Community House
  • Childhood League Center
  • City Year
  • Columbus Early Learning Centers
  • Columbus Speech & Hearing Center
  • Columbus Urban League
  • Communities in Schools of Central Ohio
  • Community Development for All People
  • Communities Properties Impact Corporation
  • Directions for Youth & Families
  • Dominican Sisters of Peace
  • Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services
  • Gladden Community House
  • Godman Guild Association
  • Groundwork Ohio
  • Junior Achievement of Central Ohio
  • Kaleidoscope Youth Center
  • South Side Learning & Development Center
  • St. Stephen’s Community House
  • St. Vincent Family Center
  • Stable Families
  • The Center for Healthy Families
  • The Salvation Army
  • YMCA of Central Ohio
  • YWCA Columbus

Achieving Results:

Together, We Fight Poverty.

At United Way of Central Ohio, diversity, equity and inclusion inform every aspect of our work. We understand from experience that the best solutions are crafted by diverse perspectives and stakeholders.

Diversity is who we are. Our Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers come from many walks of life and reflect the many faces that make up our community. Our greatest strength is that we’re not all the same.

Inclusion is essential to what we do and strengthens our community. It is at the heart of what it means to Live United and to advance the common good; to be a diverse, equitable and inclusive system is fundamental to fighting poverty in central Ohio.

Equity is making sure everyone in the community has what they need to reach their full potential. We align resources, build strong partnerships and ensure the fair treatment of everyone.

Years ago, we laid the foundation. Moving forward, we will continue to leverage and build upon the talent, strength and opportunity that is available in central Ohio.

United Way of Central Ohio’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement:

United Way of Central Ohio is committed to creating and maintaining a community where everyone has equitable opportunity to participate and contribute to their own success. Because our greatest strength as a community is that we are not all the same, everyone must be valued for their skills, experiences and unique perspectives.

We oppose all forms of structural racism, ethnic discrimination and other forms of oppression that have contributed to racial disparities in the past and persist in the present. Inequities and unfair policies and practices have marginalized entire populations, and we unequivocally denounce them, in any form. Racism and ethnic discrimination threaten the well-being of our entire community. United Way actively works to end all forms of inequities by dismantling unfair policies/procedures, and by engaging diverse residents and community members, particularly those whose voices have traditionally been marginalized.

As a trusted organization in central Ohio for nearly 100 years, we actively involve our for-profit, nonprofit and individual partners in co-creating solutions that build and sustain equity. We are committed to leveraging all our assets (e.g., convening, strategic investments, awareness building, advocacy) to create a more equitable central Ohio for all residents.

Project Diversity Pride Leadership





Project Diversity Pride Leadership is United Way’s inclusive nonprofit board development program designed to create impactful, diverse leaders from central Ohio’s racial minority and LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) communities. As our community becomes increasingly diverse, it’s critical that the composition of our nonprofit boards reflects this diversity to include many perspectives and approaches. The program trains participants to serve effectively by providing the knowledge, skills and experiences to contribute confidently. Participation in this program is a valuable $1,000 investment and we encourage the applicant’s employer to pay the tuition fee on their behalf. A limited number of partial scholarships are available to participants for which employers or personal circumstances will not allow them to participate otherwise.


March Applications Available (online only) APPLY ONLINE
April Open House (1 p.m. to 2 p.m.) REGISTER HERE
April Open House (11 a.m. to 12 p.m.) REGISTER HERE
May Applications Due by 5 p.m. SUBMIT ONLINE
Week of May 22 Selection Letters Emailed to Participants
June Orientation Reception (5:30 to 6:30 p.m.)

After orientation, the curriculum is six months of structured workshops and facilitated dialogue with monthly sessions two to four hours in length. View Full Timeline and Employer Agreement here.


The program is composed of an opening retreat, facilitated board development workshops, service project planning and graduation. The curriculum is six months of structured workshops and facilitated dialogue with monthly sessions two to four hours in length. United Way believes it’s important for participants to immerse themselves in the community and hear firsthand from local nonprofits about the work they do in order to best address the issues impacting nonprofits and our community. Throughout the program, United Way provides skill development, community tours, education and direct access to local nonprofits.

Sessions include lectures, hands-on workshops and other activities incorporating key board governance subjects such as:

  • Fiscal Management
  • Parliamentary Procedures
  • Strategic Planning
  • Marketing and Public Relations
  • Fundraising and Resource Development
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • Service project planning and execution


Graduates cite numerous professional benefits, particularly in these areas:

  • Skill development
  • Collaborative decision making/flexibility
  • Building a diverse professional network
  • Increased understanding of the community and local nonprofits
  • Nonprofit board/committee opportunities


Participants will participate in one or two service projects designed to provide practical experience of being on a board or committee and implement the knowledge and skills they are learning from the program.

During the learning sessions, participants will report on their service project experiences during the conclusion of the program.

Following graduation, United Way will facilitate introductions to nonprofit leaders whose organizational missions align with participant interests. United Way does not guarantee board or committee placement.

For any questions you may have, please contact:

Reyna Hughes, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager at Reyna.Hughes@uwcentralohio.org




Designed to give people of color— African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans and other racial minorities—a greater opportunity to serve the community, Project Diversity was launched in 1989. Known today as a premier racial minority leadership program, it boasts an impressive list of about 550 graduates, many of whom have gone on to serve on local nonprofit boards.


Founded in 2008, Pride Leadership has given close to 200 members of the LGBTQ+ community a greater voice in leadership. Since its inception, the program has gained a solid reputation as a quality leadership development program in central Ohio.

“Project Diversity showed me the challenges minorities have in our community. I saw different leadership styles in action and learned the importance of trusting in a team. It gave me a new group to call family.”
Magaly Vasquez, Columbus Metropolitan Library

“Pride Leadership has been a wonderful experience because not only do I have the tools, skills, resources to move forward with supporting organizations in this city, I also have a number of new friends. That to me is a great value.”
–Justin Warren, L Brands


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