Centennial Celebrating the 1960s




In celebration of our Centennial Year, United Way of San Diego County (UWSD) is revisiting our history by highlighting a different decade each month. This month, we are taking a closer look at the 1960s, which was a pivotal and transitional decade in history.

The population of San Diego grew by 30% during the 1960s, and the city transformed to accommodate its increasing size. The formerly dilapidated downtown area became the focus of an urban renewal project that resulted in the Gaslamp Quarter. The Mission Valley Shopping Center and Sea World were built, as well as the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge. In addition to new construction, the city gained prominence when the American Football League Chargers started their first season in the fall of 1960 and the minor-league San Diego Padres became a Major League Baseball team in 1969.

With all of these changes in mind, it is probably not surprising to learn that the 1960s was a transitional decade for United Way as well. As the decade began, fundraising had stalled and local leaders began to lose confidence in the organization. Community leader James “Jim” Mulvaney created a committee to discover the source of the problem. The committee recommended increased partnership in the community and, as a result, United Community Services of San Diego County was formed in 1962. In 1965, this partnership was bolstered by the addition of the Combined Federal Campaign which allowed federal employees to give to the community through United Way. The next seven years brought increased growth in fundraising for the organization.

James “Jim” Mulvaney’s involvement in numerous nonprofit boards and organizations for 50 years would later be recognized by United Way with the creation of the James F. Mulvaney Community Leadership Award. This award is given to exceptional local leaders who have demonstrated long-lasting service to the San Diego community.

As we look back at our history, we are reminded of two things. The first is that we must always be willing to adapt to meet the demands of our time. Our team is proud to have launched the Worker Assistance Initiative to meet the needs our neighbors who have experienced job loss or reduction of wages as a result of COVID-19. Secondly, the change that we instituted at United Way in the 1960s laid the groundwork for the organization that we are today. Our strength is derived from our partnerships, and this year alone we will align over one hundred partners, to leverage resources and transform lives.

We hope you will partner with us by giving your time, treasure, or talent to help continue supporting the critical needs of our community.

To learn about the Centennial Celebration, visit uwsd.org/centennial.