United Way of Santa Barbara County (UWSBC) has the unique and positive vision that in our community, everyone has a hopeful future. Since 1923, UWSBC has served Santa Barbara County community through funding, volunteer development, and by utilizing its own unique initiatives that involve dozens of local non-profit and public sector agencies. UWSBC’s mission is driven by Power of Partnership™ priorities to help children, families, and seniors with a focus on Education, Income, and Health.


Right here, right now, with the Power of Partnership, we are improving lives for children, families, seniors, and you!


Our vision is to provide a hopeful future for each person in the community.

Core Programs

United Way's efforts offer a continuum of integrated services in each of three community-identified focus areas (Education, Financial Empowerment, and Health) 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 specialized parent engagement curriculum.
  • United for Literacy: 25,000 students at 30+ schools have access to individualized, online reading enhancement programs that improve their literacy skills and boost their motivation to pursue higher education and a career.
  • Kindergarten Success Institutes: Early education programming helps 250+ kindergarteners master basic academic and social/emotional skills for success in school.
  • Dolly Parton's Imagination Library: Free monthly books help over 1,200 children up to age 5 start fostering a love of reading.
  • 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.
  • United Learning Center: Year-round virtual and in-person tutoring helps local students who are struggling academically meet and exceed critical reading and education benchmarks. 
  • Community Disaster Response: United Way provides short-term and long-term financial relief efforts during community crisis.
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, United Way provided direct financial assistance to thousands of households and hundreds of nonprofits. Learn more at www.unitedwaysb.org/covid19
    • 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.


UWSBC’s adopted community goals are 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.