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ESL Gift to Establish “Closing the Gap” Scholarship Program at SUNY Brockport

Fannie Barrier Williams scholarships to assist students with financial need

Rochester, NY — ESL has gifted $1.107 million to the Brockport Foundation to assist incoming students at SUNY Brockport with scholarship funds that will allow them to enjoy the full college experience.

The Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars (FBWS) program will provide four-year scholarships to students from low income families with unmet financial need from within the six-county region ESL serves (Monroe, Orleans, Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, and Wayne). Preference will be given to students of color.

“This is a special day at Brockport, and another step in helping our most financially vulnerable students succeed,” said SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson. “The Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars program will allow these students to focus on their studies without having to worry about paying their bills. Importantly, through the generosity of ESL, these students will be able to graduate with limited debt and contribute back to the greater Rochester community.”

The FBWS program will recruit strong students with financial need who might not otherwise be eligible for other Brockport scholarships. Approximately 30 students per year will receive these awards, which will supplement existing State and Federal programs and cover traditional out-of-pocket expenses such as room-and-board and fees.

“Scholarships are critical investments we make in the education of our community’s future leaders,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union. “We sincerely thank SUNY Brockport for the opportunity to partner on the Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars program, as we know that a quality education can open the door to numerous opportunities. Together, we can help ensure students are supported and nurtured in a way that allows them to complete their studies, graduate, and jumpstart their successful careers.”

Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars Program

ESL Federal Credit Union’s purpose is to help our community thrive and prosper. And with its Community Impact funds, ESL strives to support a healthy, resilient, and equitable Greater Rochester where all residents are well-educated and have access to quality employment opportunities. Partnering together with SUNY Brockport, on behalf of disenfranchised or underrepresented students, ESL is proud to support the Fannie Barrier Williams Scholars program. Crafted in the tradition of Brockport alumna Fannie Barrier Williams, class of 1870 and the first African-American woman to graduate from the college, this program is intended to support a student’s ability to persist to graduation by providing academic, personal, and career support, along with a gap-closing, four-year scholarship.

Aimed at enrolling high potential students who demonstrate financial need, with an intentional focus on racial equity, the incoming freshman eligible for this program will be from Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Ontario, or Wayne counties.

Student eligibility includes meeting the following criteria:

  • Be accepted as an incoming freshman student and enrolled in a degree program at SUNY Brockport;
  • Have a High School GPA of 87 or higher;
  • Identified as low income with demonstrated unmet financial need;
  • A resident from Monroe, Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, Ontario, or Wayne counties;
  • Not be receiving a traditional merit/academic scholarship from SUNY Brockport; and
  • A student most at risk of not persisting to graduation, priority given to students of color

“We are so thankful to ESL for this impactful support,” said Mike Andriatch, Vice President for Advancement at the College and the President of the Brockport Foundation. “I also want to acknowledge the team at the College that worked tirelessly with ESL to make this program happen. The FBWS program will showcase a collaboration across campus that will change the lives of these students.”

Fannie Barrier Williams was the first woman of color to graduate from what was then the Brockport Normal & Training School (the predecessor of SUNY Brockport) in 1870. She was recognized throughout the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a major national leader. She was a respected public speaker, prolific writer, prominent reform and labor activist, and a recognized intellectual—achievements all the more remarkable because she was a black woman living at a time known as the nadir of race relations. She and her husband were closely associated with Booker T. Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B Wells, and Frederick Douglass, and she played a part in the founding of the NAACP.

“ESL’s support is a tremendous asset to our student success efforts at SUNY Brockport,” said Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Sara Kelly. “The Fannie Barrier Williams Scholarship Program will close opportunity gaps through substantial financial and personal support, as well as academic engagement.

SUNY Brockport serves 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students on its main campus in the western portion of Monroe County and at its downtown Rochester location.

ESL’s Community Impact objectives focus on the following areas of impact throughout the Greater Rochester community: expanding individual opportunity through education and employment; building strong neighborhoods that are affordable, prosperous, well-connected and inclusive; strengthening local organizations; and sharing stories that lift us up.

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About ESL Federal Credit Union

With more than 100 years of locally-owned history, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to more than 384,000 members and 13,200 businesses. Founded in 1920, the company provides personal banking, business banking, mortgage services, and wealth management services through its locally-based 23 branch network, telephone, mobile, online, and live chat center.

The Rochester-based financial institution employs approximately 900 people in the Greater Rochester area and holds more than $8.6 billion in assets. Since 1996, ESL has paid out 26 consecutive Owners’ Dividends to its members totaling more than $185 million. Since the creation of its Community Impact initiative in 2018, ESL has reinvested more than $40 million in grants throughout the community. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for 11 years since 2010. ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut Street, in Rochester, and can be found online at

Find and connect with ESL on Twitter (@ESLFCU) and

For more information, contact:

Rich Pulvino, APR
Vice President/Director, Corporate Communications