Trident United Way is celebrating 70 years of spearheading local efforts to solve critical problems regarding education, financial stability and health.

Founded in the waning days of World War II as Charleston's Community Chest, the United Way has moved from funding local agencies to focus on uniting nonprofits, businesses, government agencies and others to address these needs.

Today, its work specifically focuses on boosting graduation rates, helping people escape poverty and leading people into healthier lifestyles to avoid chronic conditions.

That's a long way from the umbrella nonprofit fundraiser formed in 1944 by C. Bissell Jenkins Jr., A.W. Allison, Henry C. Tecklenberg, Rudolph Siegling, Stephen Nelson, Julius Schroder, Homer Pace and Hugh Lane. That first year, they raised $293,000 as part of a war effort and doled it out to a handful of partner agencies.

Today, Trident United Way also is working to build the infrastructure to measure outcomes better across the human service sector. The new system is called Efforts to Outcomes.

"The result will be a level of rigor in outcomes measurement that our nonprofit community has not seen before," says Christopher Kerrigan, Trident United Way's president and CEO. He has led the organization for 17 years.

Under Kerrigan, Trident United Way has:

Moved away from the agency funding model.

Raised $138 million.

Organized services in 12 low-income schools through Links to Success.

Connected 40,000 to 50,000 people each year with resources through the 211 Hotline.

Helped streamline basic needs services through CharityTracker.

For more, go to www.tuw.org.

Jennifer Berry Hawes