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ESL Charitable Foundation Gives $5 Million Innovation Grant to Support Housing Stability and Project Uplift with United Way of Greater Rochester

ESL support to help local people with consumer-driven grants to address immediate needs

Rochester, NY — ESL Federal Credit Union announced today that the ESL Charitable Foundation will provide an innovative $5 million grant to United Way of Greater Rochester to support community members in addressing barriers related to poverty and improving quality of life. This new Innovation Grant is a groundbreaking strategy to offer immediate, direct, consumer-driven interventions and support that will be implemented now through the end of July 2020.

The $5 million grant will be separated into two categories: launching Project Uplift and enhancing the Housing Stability initiative with United Way and its current program partners. Four million dollars will be directed toward Project Uplift to support and administer direct, discretionary interventions for community members in Monroe County experiencing barriers to well-being and economic stability, including but not limited to help with car repairs, school and childcare expenses, medical bills, and other needed supports.

One million dollars will be used to enhance a current, successful Housing Stability initiative which directly supports community members with housing needs such as lease down payments, rent assistance, foreclosure prevention, and other critical housing challenges. Approximately half of this grant will be deployed throughout Monroe County, with the additional half implemented through regional United Way partners in Genesee, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, and Wayne counties.

“ESL is supporting United Way’s initiative of empowering people to be their own best advocates for what they need to thrive,” said Jaime Saunders, President & CEO of United Way of Greater Rochester. “We are proud to partner with ESL and our current Community Impact Fund program providers to bring this needed support directly to individuals throughout our region. Together we believe in listening to those we serve, and addressing needs using innovative strategies with longstanding partners.”

All funds will be administered through United Way’s current network of program partners and subsequently provided directly to point of payment based on clients’ identified need. Clients must ensure documentation—an invoice, receipt, apartment lease, etc.—is provided to the appropriate program partner. For example, this may include payment to property management for security deposits, payment to an auto repair shop, or a check to a local school for a school uniform.

Individuals seeking assistance may contact 2-1-1 Helpline, a longstanding United Way partner and our community’s resource for human service resources and referrals. As the programs are implemented, call specialists at 2-1-1 will be able to direct individuals to organizations and programs that best meet the callers’ identified needs.

“We at ESL believe that what impacts the community affects all of us,” said Faheem Masood, President & CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union. “United Way of Greater Rochester has proven time and again to be an outstanding steward and distributor of funds for our community because of the high-quality network of partners it has built. With this new Innovation Grant, we will not only help lift up many in our community, but will also provide vital learnings that will help in developing future initiatives.”

Learning and listening is a key element of this groundbreaking project. Participating community partner organizations will track what individuals choose as the most important priorities for themselves. This information will ultimately help inform future strategies to ensure that local people have the tools and resources they need to thrive.

To learn more about ESL’s commitment to a thriving region, visit To learn more about United Way of Greater Rochester, the programs and people supported by United Way’s Community Impact Fund and Innovation Grants, visit

About ESL Federal Credit Union

With nearly 100 years of locally-owned history, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to approximately 364,000 members world-wide. The company provides personal, business banking, and wealth management services through its locally-based 21 branch network, telephone, mobile, online, and live chat center.

The Rochester-based financial institution employs more than 810 people in Rochester, New York and holds $6.6 billion in assets. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for nine years since 2010. ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut Street, in Rochester, and can be found on the Internet at

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