United Way Worldwide named the Tocqueville Society after Alexis de Tocqueville, a young lawyer who spent nine months in North America in 1831. During that time, he observed American society and was inspired by the level of generosity and good will Americans possessed for each other. In his book, Democracy in America, he wrote: "I must say that I have seen Americans make a great deal of real sacrifices to the public welfare, and have noticed a hundred instances in which they hardly ever failed to lend a faithful support to one another." A statement that, nearly three centuries later, accurately captures the American spirit and philanthropic nature held today.
In 1996, six families formed the Tocqueville Society for Escambia County. Those Founding Families had a vision for this community: to deepen the individual understanding, commitment, and support of United Way's work.
Throughout the last 20 years, over 30 families have, at one time or another, joined the society. Currently, the society consists of fourteen families contributing $245,000 annually. Since its creation, members of the Tocqueville Society have donated over $3.6 million to fight for the education, health and financial stability for citizens in Escambia County.