An outstanding example of the difference one dedicated person can make, Frances Wisebart Jacobs, known as Colorado’s “Mother of Charities,” was the driving force behind the concept of today’s United Way, the founder of a major medical institution, an educator and an important philanthropist.
Jacobs, an Ohio native, relocated with her husband to Denver in 1874. President of the Hebrew Benevolent Ladies Society, known today as Jewish Family Service of Colorado, and an officer of the nonsectarian Ladies’ Relief Society, in 1887 she spearheaded the creation of the Charity Organization Society, which became a federation of charities that coordinated fundraising and other efforts and shared the proceeds. This was the model that led to the creation of today’s United Way, which recognizes Jacobs as its founder. Jacobs also founded Denver’s first free kindergarten to help poor children. After her death, a new hospital she had helped found was named the Frances Jacobs Hospital – and today it stands as the internationally-known National Jewish Health, the leading respiratory hospital in the nation.
Jacobs is the only woman among the 16 pioneers honored with stained glass portraits in the Colorado Capitol Rotunda.