Frequently Asked Questions

What is United Way of Santa Barbara County?

Since 1923, United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has provided local children, families, and seniors with community services and resources, building a longstanding reputation as the community's fundraiser. In the past 22 years, however, UWSBC has transformed from an organization based solely on fundraising into a hybrid organization, building partnerships and delivering direct services to accomplish more than any one person or organization can do. UWSBC is one of just a handful of United Ways in the nation to also include direct programs and partnerships to better meet Santa Barbara County’s educational, financial, and health needs. 
UWSBC’s mission statement is: “To enrich the lives of children and families and build resilient communities by leading local programs and partnerships that improve school readiness and academic achievement, financial empowerment, and crisis response and recovery.” Our vision is strong local communities where committed networks of leaders and organizations are united to provide children and families the education, financial skills, and resources necessary to be successful today and resilient in times of community crisis.
To do this, UWSBC works year-round, utilizing a network of strategic partnerships with over 200 public and private partner organizations, to provide comprehensive programming for nearly 25,000 Santa Barbara County residents annually. By collaborating with local volunteers, non-profit and public sector agencies, and community leaders, UWSBC brings together Santa Barbara County's best resources to empower local children, families, and seniors. 

Who supports UWSBC?

Over 175 workplaces, 20 foundations, and 6,000 individuals from Carpinteria to the Santa Ynez Valley contribute financially to our programs every year. Over 3,000 individuals contribute time and energy to us as well. The contributions of time, money, and ideas help us reach more than 80,000 local people per year. That is more than one-third of our local population!

What programs does UWSBC offer?

United Way's efforts offer a continuum of integrated services in each of three community-identified focus areas (Education, Financial Empowerment, and Community Crisis Response) to help local community members from the day they are born until the final days of their life, and everywhere in between. United Way's signature programs include:
  • Fun in the Sun: 350 youth improve their academic, behavioral, and social skills, instead of falling behind, through this national award-winning summer learning program. 200 parents practice positive parenting practices and family-strengthening activities through a specialized parent engagement curriculum.
  • Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Monthly books help over 1,200 children up to age 5 start fostering a love of reading.
  • Early LearningSuccess Institutes: 4 weeks of early education help 250+ kindergarteners master basic academic and social/emotional skills for success in school.
  • United Learning Center: At the United Learning Center, tutors assess every student before creating a customized learning plan. Tutors monitor students' progress, instructing and coaching them along the way. All ULC tutors are trained in the Orton-Gillingham methods of literacy instruction, which can support students with Dyslexia and similar learning differences.  
  • United for Financial Empowerment: over 3,000 low/moderate-income families and individuals build long-term financial stability through free tax preparation assistance; financial literacy education; and access to emergency savings accounts, college savings plans, and retirement accounts.
  • Community Disaster Response: One of UWSBC's roles in times of disaster is to provide long-term financial relief efforts. For the Thomas Fire and resulting debris flow disasters, UWSBC partnered with United Way of Ventura County to establish and manage the United Way Thomas Fire & Flood Fund to provide relief to Santa Barbara County and Ventura County. In Santa Barbara County, UWSBC distributed $2,045,988 to 421 households representing 1,200 individuals affected by the disasters, and 20 community organizations providing short- and long-term relief efforts.

How did UWSBC develop its current strategic plan and goals?

UWSBC’s adopted community goals were the result of the Power of Partnership Initiative (2006-2009), a community survey process that asked the South Coast community to identify its ten-year goals. UWSBC asked 6,000 individuals from all backgrounds, 300 businesses, and organizations, and hundreds of community leaders to share their hopes and desired goals to reach by the year 2020. These community members agreed that improving education, financial stability, and health in Santa Barbara County are of paramount importance. These respondents identified a need to bridge critical service gaps in these focus areas – the building blocks for a good life – for Santa Barbara County's children, families, and seniors.

Why give to United Way?

Through funding, volunteer development, leveraging dozens of local non-profit and public sector agencies, and directing our own unique multi-agency initiatives such as Fun in the Sun (a summer academic and behavior enrichment program for poverty-level and homeless children and their families), United Way of Santa Barbara County seeks to create lasting, meaningful solutions rather than short-lived approaches to community problems.

What are UWSBC's core values?

Caring – we are committed to people helping people every day . . . one generation voluntarily and compassionately paving the way for future generations.
Innovation – using the Power of Partnership™ , we connect strengths, multiply resources, and create the best ways to make measurable improvements in local lives.
Trustworthiness – we are the finest stewards of your donated time, ideas and money.
Leadership – we initiate, influence and support desired positive changes in our neighborhoods and communities.

What is United Way’s Added Value?

With one gift to United Way of Santa Barbara County, you make possible a network of human care services and innovative partnerships. Your donation becomes more than the amount you write on your check or on your pledge form. It is also more than a singular investment. It attracts other money from many different sources and other services, from government, non-profits, businesses and organizations.

How much of my contribution works to help people in Santa Barbara County?

100%. When you give directly to United Way of Santa Barbara County, your gift stays here.

Is my United Way contribution tax-deductible?

Contributions are tax deductible by individuals who itemize. All United Way-supported charities are tax-exempt, not-for-profit health and human service providers and are classified as 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service.

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