Philanthropy, Voluntarism, and Grantmaking

United Way of the Columbia- Willamette

Free the Future

aka UWCW

Portland, OR


At United Way, we believe every child deserves a fair chance – to succeed in school, graduate from high school and go on to work or college to one day support their own families. Right now, in our four counties, more than 100,000 children are living in poverty. That means 1 in 5 kids don't have that chance. Together, we can change this by investing in our region's kids and reducing childhood poverty, allowing these children to reach their full potential. We're leading over 70 of the best nonprofits in our region in creating a shared, region-wide strategy to improve the odds for kids and families. Together, we're sharing data and resources, shaping policy and linking together solutions that work. We want you to be part of the effort – because every dollar, every minute every voice counts.

Ruling Year


President and CEO

Mr. Keith Thomajan

Main Address

619 SW 11th Ave

Portland, OR 97205 USA


portland, vancouver, oregon, washington, education, financial stability, health, children, families, United Way





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Fund Raising Organizations That Cross Categories includes Community Funds/Trusts and Federated Giving Programs) e.g. United Way (T70)

Fund Raising and/or Fund Distribution (S12)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Community Impact Funded Projects

Strategic Initiatives

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

We seek to break the cycle of childhood poverty in the 4-county Portland metro area, where nearly 19 percent of children live in poverty. Poverty rates are highest for children of color, with African Americans (43%), American Indians/Native Alaskans (36%) and Latinos/Hispanics (33%) topping the list.

We focus our investments in organizations and strategies that (1) improve academic success for children, from early life to post-secondary education and training; (2) increase the financial and physical stability of families through income and housing; and (3) create enhanced support through greater participation in the fate of our communities. We also invest in creating a real safety net of key social services that prevent children and families from falling deeper into poverty.

Long-term success (4-7 years) will mean more children and their families will live in communities where healthy and affordable housing is within reach for all, health care and child care are available and accessible, and where schools educate and graduate students ready to contribute to their communities. Long-term success will also mean that entrenched barriers in the system that disproportionately affect people of color will be eroded away through collective advocacy.

UWCW implements three key strategies designed to break the cycle of childhood poverty: ensure the academic success of our children; improve the financial and physical stability of the families in which those children live; and ensure communities have the resources and services needed to support the families living there.

We do this by galvanizing and connecting individuals, businesses, nonprofits, faith communities and governments to design, implement or invest in proven initiatives and programs, and to improve systems through policy change. We use data and information about the effectiveness of our efforts to make wiser investments in our community; and, to generate knowledge that can be incorporated by others to improve efficiency and quality of outcomes.

UWCW is working with community partners to create an infrastructure for collective impact and knowledge sharing. This will allow us to build a common agenda of objectives, an effective accountability mechanism, and shared measurements of success. We believe this collective impact approach is the only viable approach to tackling a complex, multi-sector systemic issue like childhood poverty.

We have committed more than $3.5 million for a collaborative effort of culturally-specific education partners and service providers to develop and implement a blueprint that improves academic and social success of children of color. This innovative approach is one of the most significant investments in proven programs aimed at reducing deeply embedded disparities in our communities.

UWCW raises, invests and leverages millions of dollars annually to create and support innovative and effective programs and approaches which generate sustained impact in local communities.

Our staff is diverse and talented, bringing a broad array of skills and expertise in a variety of issue areas. Staff and Board are deeply committed to deepening relationships with leaders and members of the community, where we seek to incorporate their insight and expertise to enhance the quality of our work.

Through our volunteer program – Hands On Greater Portland – we mobilize thousands of volunteers every year to provide critical labor, skills and resources to our community.

We have developed a comprehensive evaluation framework which includes demographic data, progress indicators (quantitative metrics reflecting population level outcomes), and other quantitative and qualitative data around equity, systems change, quality improvement, etc.

We have a set of progress indicators for each of the strategies outlined above. Each of these metrics were selected because of their connection to poverty (e.g. high school graduation) and because organizations we fund can report data for those metrics to us, which will be analyzed collectively. Key progress indicators include: Proportion of students meeting 3rd grade reading standards; proportion of households paying more than 30% of income for housing costs; proportion of eligible families receiving EITC refund.

The last two years have resulted in a historic reorganization of UWCW and the development of a strategic plan focused on breaking the cycle of childhood poverty. We designed two innovative investment strategies and have committed nearly $7 million over the next 3-5 years to a cohort of community based organizations to organize around a collective impact model; and, we seek to involve other stakeholders to leverage additional investments for this collective effort.

We are in the process of developing a data and knowledge sharing infrastructure to ensure we are learning from our failures as much as from our successes. These data – and whatever we can learn from their analysis – will be critical to the success of our collective impact approach.

External Reviews

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United Way of the Columbia- Willamette

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
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Click here to view a Sample Report.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Race & Ethnicity

Sexual Orientation

We do not display sexual orientation information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.


This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Board Members.

Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan
We use other methods to support diversity