United Way Programming

United We Fight, United We Win

United Way brings together our county's nonprofits, businesses, schools and volunteers. We identify key areas of need and create community-based and community-led solutions that provide everyone in our region with a clear path to success. We invite you to learn more about the following initiatives and programs that improve the lives of millions of people in our region.



Dolly Parton's Imagination Library of Ohio 


United Way of Portage County is a Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Affiliate

Imagine a world where every child has books...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        With Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, they can! The Imagination Library helps set children up for success by putting books into the hands and hearts of children across the world.

Today a Reader, Tomorrow a Leader

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Children who grow up with books are inspired to dream more, do more, and be more! Through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, kids in Portage County can receive a free book every month until they’re five years old. Kids may add up to 60 books in their personal library!

Sign your children up today and start building your child’s free personal library!

Imagination Library

About the Imagination Library: Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly Parton started the Imagination Library for the children in her home county in Tennessee and now has participating communities throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Republic of Ireland. So far, the program has gifted nearly 130 million books to more than 1.5 million  children since 1995!

About the Governor’s Imagination Library: Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine saw the impact the Imagination Library had in her own family and wanted every child in Ohio to have the same opportunity. In 2019, she established the Ohio Governor’s Imagination Library, which matches funds to help offset the cost of the program for local affiliates.

Portage County's Imagination Library is brought to the children of Portage County by United Way of Portage County Ohio, Reed Memorial Library, Kent Free Library and Portage County Library District.

We are proud to invest in our future by putting books in the hands of children right here in our own community, where nearly half of the children are below the poverty level. 

Studies show that a child who grows up impoverished is six times more likely to drop out of high school. They are behind before they even start!

 United Way


2-1-1 Information Line


211 - Get Connected.  Get Help.

Dial 211 on any phone or text your zip code to 898-211, or go online to 211portage.org

Connecting People To Resources

What is 211?

211 is a vital service utilized by thousands across Portage County.  Every day, residents of the community can contact 211 for free and confidential crisis and emergency counseling, disaster assistance, food, health care and insurance assistance, stable housing, utilities payment assistance, employment services, veteran services, and childcare and family services.

What Does 211 do?

No matter the situation, the specialists at 211 listen, identify underlying problems, and connect people with resources and services in their community that improve their lives.  In 2021 alone, 211 answered over 4,500 calls, helping people with life-changing support.

211 does more than "patch people through" to agencies.  Instead, 211 specialists are trained to identify the root cause of a problem - and connect them with a wide range of available resources that meet all of the underlying needs, not just the one that prompted the call, chat or email.

Contact 211

Dial 211 or 330-297-4636 on any phone in Portage County to be linked to a 211 Specialist who will assist you, or go online to 211portage.org to search the website for information. If you are a service provider and need to provide updated information on your agency or services to 211, please email 211database@uwsummit.org.



United Way is committed to helping young children in our region meet these crucial Steps to Success. Our year-round Literacy Kit efforts ensure students and families have access to resources that empower them around school readiness and literacy.

Throughout the year, United Way of Portage County partners with Kent State University to collect and assemble more than 1,200 Literacy Kits that are distributed to students in our county. Each kit includes an age-appropriate book, with interactive characters and information for families so students can be prepared for kindergarten and reading at grade-level by third grade.

United Way of Portage County offers warm thanks to Barb Boltz, Project Director of Student Affairs at Kent State, and all the Kent State University staff and student volunteers who have been donating their time during the spring for putting the Literacy Kits together.


The Literacy Kit program encourages early grade reading by making the experience fun. United Way has secured support from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to make these literacy kits available to Kindergarten students that are currently engaged with the Reading Role Models program.


 Get Help Filing Taxes - For Free!

My Free Taxes

Don’t pay to file your taxes.

If your household earned less than $66,000 in 2020, you can file both your federal and state returns for free using MyFreeTaxes.com. This is the only free, national, online tax filing product offered by a nonprofit. United Way has made it available to over 100 million U.S. taxpayers as part of our fight for the financial stability of every person in every community.

“Free” doesn’t always mean free.

Some “free” tax preparation products only offer federal (not state) filings, or charge extra for anything beyond the most basic forms. MyFreeTaxes is completely free for individuals and families who earned less than $66,000 in 2020 — whether you file in multiple states, work freelance, have a side gig, or earn investment income.

Let the experts handle the details.

MyFreeTaxes is powered by H&R Block’s premium software, so filing is easy, secure, and guaranteed to be 100% accurate. The software scans for any tax credit you’re entitled to, making sure you get your maximum refund. If you have questions along the way, IRS-certified specialists are ready to answer your questions in real time.

United Way fights for the financial stability of every person in every community. 

United Way values its partners, including H&R Block, to provide free online tax preparation software to everyone who made less than $66,000 last year.


Visit 211oh.org or dial 2-1-1 to schedule a tax appointment or to learn more about either of these free tax preparation programs.




Access To Care

United Way of Portage County has partnered with SingleCare (formerly FamilyWize) to bring prescription discounts to individuals and families not covered by health insurance or those who do not have adequate medical coverage. United Way of Portage County joins the more than 700 United Ways in all 50 states in an effort to help more than 13 million people save $1.5 billion in prescription cost since 2005. So far, more than 10 million cards have been distributed. The FamilyWize Prescription Discount card could lower the cost of medicine by an average of 45%. United Way of Portage County provides these cards free-of-charge to everyone in our community. There are no age restrictions, no income restrictions, no limit on how many times you can use it and no waiting to get a card. 

Get Your Card Now


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Drug Price Lookup                  Pharmacy Locator

United Way Partnership            How it works




Each year, United Way partners with the Center of Hope in Ravenna and Kent Social Services to collect school supplies for children in our community. We know that when children have the tools and resources they need they are more likely to succeed in school and in life. The School Supply Drive happens each July and August and helps hundreds of families ensure their children have the items they need to start the school year.

Emergency Food & Shelter Program

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program began in 1983 with a $50 million federal appropriation. The program was created by Congress to help meet the needs of hungry and unhoused people throughout the United States and its territories by allocating federal funds for the provision of food and shelter. In 2017, United Way of Portage County distributed $77,000 to local programs to help with food, shelter and utility assistance. Click the link to see how this program operates in Portage County through the work of United Way.