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Our thing. Making a difference. 2013 COMMUNITY REPORT

Fully invested At First Niagara, we collaborate with effective community partners, invest in the great work they do and empower them to do more for our communities. When our partners thrive and Do Great Things, we all benefit. This report is intended to provide an overview of our corporate commitment to the communities in which we live and work. For more detailed information and a complete list of all of our charitable giving, please visit our website at

About the First Niagara Foundation The First Niagara Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation founded in 1998. The Foundation is committed to supporting organizations in the communities in which we live and work, with specific focus on youth and education, community development and neighborhood revitalization. In 2013, the Foundation contributed more than $9 million in charitable grants to numerous community partners. For more information, visit

About First Niagara First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 420 branches, $38 billion in assets, $27 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,800 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For more information, visit

Dear Friends, First Niagara has a proud tradition of supporting our communities. In 2013 alone, we contributed $12 million to about 1,200 community organizations. This support extended throughout the communities where we live, work and do business. Our investments provide valuable, positive outcomes each and every day. Youth and Education, Community Development and Neighborhood Revitalization are our focus areas, with special emphasis on providing opportunities in mentoring, financial literacy and job training for low- to moderate-income populations. Our signature program, Mentoring MattersSM, continues to support the strongest mentoring initiatives throughout our markets, with 33 organizations sharing $1 million in grant funding in 2013. This brings our total Mentoring Matters investment to $5.3 million over the past seven years. An essential part of the First Niagara approach is our deep commitment to volunteerism, led by our Employee Volunteer Council (EVC). Made up of employees across our communities, the EVC is the vital link connecting First Niagara team members with the community, tackling projects across New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. The level of commitment that our team demonstrates inspires us all. We are so committed to empowering our team members to make a difference that we have designated 2014 as the “Year to Volunteer.� Through this initiative, we intend to further cultivate volunteerism as an even stronger component of our community commitment and philanthropy. We are dedicated to being an exceptional corporate citizen and reliable community partner, and we will continue to collaborate with and invest in effective partners, empowering them to Do Great Things. I am proud to share with you our annual report to the community and a snapshot of our 2013 accomplishments. Be sure to visit our website,, for the full story. Please know that First Niagara is committed to doing all we can to make the communities across our footprint places where all people have opportunities to learn, grow and achieve their dreams.

Gary M. Crosby President & CEO


Here to help

An essential component of empowering our community to thrive is leveraging the time and talents of First Niagara’s 5,800+ employees. To positively impact the vitality of the communities where we live and work, First Niagara team members proudly provide professional expertise and volunteer service to hundreds of non-profit partners.

augmenting our corporate financial support, First Niagara’s Employee Volunteer Council (EVC) helps to raise both money and awareness for our non-profit partners and unifies First Niagara team members under the mission of giving back. With a local chapter in each of our eight regions, the EVC spearheads employee volunteer initiatives with a variety of non-profit partners, strengthening key relationships throughout our communities. 2013 Highlights of First Niagara Volunteer Commitment Western New york • Nearly 200 Western New York teammates pitched in with more than 1,400 volunteer hours at Habitat for Humanity at the First Niagara House in Buffalo’s Fillmore District.

Central New york • Central New York team members joined in the Rebuilding Together Broome County community cleanup event. The team worked all day to assist an elderly homeowner with repairs and maintenance, sharing in the rewards of giving back.

• First Niagara has long been partners with Gateway Longview, a child and family service organization that has been providing care, counseling and support to at-risk children and families since 1890. The EVC provides volunteers for four fundraising events throughout the year.

• Holiday drives are projects eagerly tackled by First Niagara team members. This December, First Niagara teamed up with the Salvation Army for Distribution Day, which assists low-income families during the holidays. Each family received gifts, a holiday basket and extra food to help them feed their children during the school break.

rochester New york

Eastern New york

• In 2013, the United Way of Greater Rochester presented its Award of Excellence to the EVC and Market Executive Suzanne Nasipak-Chapman. Rochester team members partner with the United Way throughout the year from the Day of Caring to our annual Employee Giving Campaign.

• The Eastern New York region celebrated Earth Day 2013 by sponsoring and staffing an electronics recycling drive. Over 30 team members helped collect used electronics to send off to a recycling plant.

• The EVC provides both corporate funding and employee support for the Al Sigl WalkAbout, a family-friendly event where participants direct funds raised to any of Al Sigl’s six member agencies. The agency helps clients with disabilities and special needs achieve independence, accomplish amazing goals and participate in the Rochester community.

• First Niagara is a longtime sponsor of Sean’s Run, a weekend-long event designed to raise awareness of the dangers of teen drinking and driving. In addition to monetary support, First Niagara provides volunteers to stage this important community event. tri-state • More than 40 team members from our Tri-State region participated in Junior Achievement’s Bowl-A-Thon, raising nearly $7,000 to fund the organization’s financial literacy programs. Plus, one of the First Niagara teams took home the Bowl-A-Thon Cup. • In support of Keep Rockland Beautiful and its Great American Clean Up initiative, a group of Tri-State team members volunteered to collect garbage and recyclables around our Nyack office.


New England • A New England Employee Volunteer Council Book Drive yielded more than 1,500 donated books to the New Haven Reads Community Book Bank. Books collected at branch and office locations were donated to children and adults through schools, community groups and nonprofits. This grassroots initiative complements a First Niagara grant to New Haven Reads, which provides nearly 400 children with free tutoring services. Western Pennsylvania • In 2013, Western Pennsylvania team members pulled together to capture First Niagara’s Community Cup, the award given to the region with the highest participation in our United Way Employee Giving Campaign. The WPA region set a record high participation rate, establishing a new standard of engagement. • WPA team members donate their time and talents with East End Community Ministry. The organization is dedicated to helping at-risk children and youth, the hungry, the homeless and others in need throughout Pittsburgh’s East End. Eastern Pennsylvania • First Niagara provided the funds to purchase and the manpower to assemble 50 high quality beds for Families Forward Philadelphia. The nonprofit operates Philadelphia’s largest privately run shelter for homeless families, plus 75 transitional and permanent family residential units throughout West Philadelphia. • Eastern Pennsylvania team members volunteer with the Habitat for Humanity of Chester County at the Cambria Housing Development in Coatesville, Pa. First Niagara also provides grant assistance to support the building of affordable housing in the area. To date, 17 homes have been built in this community.

2013 Highlights of First Niagara Volunteer Commitment Employee Volunteer Council (EVC) Amount raised through jeans days: $112,595 Number of events supported by the EVC: 135 United Way Giving First Niagara has long been a supporter of the United Way. In 2013, nearly 1,900 team members participated in our employee giving campaign, helping us exceed our company-wide goal. The Community Cup, which is awarded to the region with the highest participation level, was awarded to our Western Pennsylvania region this year. Employee Campaign plus Corporate Match 2013: $804,376.88

yoUtH & EDUCatioN

Future focused

First Niagara embraces initiatives which directly empower youth to thrive and enhance their capacities. This includes programs and opportunities that provide mentoring, skill building, job training and access to education to help youth achieve their full potential.

• First Niagara has provided signifi cant start-up fi nancial support for Buffalo Technology and Arts Center and Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology, both modeled after Bill Strickland’s nationally recognized Manchester Bidwell Corp. in Pittsburgh. Based in Buffalo and New Haven, the centers prepare youth and adults for career advancement through after-school arts and job training programs.

• First Niagara invests in Devereux, a leading nonprofi t behavioral health organization that supports many of the most underserved and vulnerable members of the community. Headquartered near Philadelphia, Devereux operates a comprehensive national network of clinical, therapeutic, educational and employment programs and services that positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of individuals and families every year.

• First Niagara is a key contributor to both Say Yes Syracuse and Say Yes Buffalo. This bold education-based economic revitalization initiative includes a universal scholarship program for Syracuse and Buffalo public school district students. Our investment will assist thousands of young people in achieving their educational goals and realizing their dreams.

• First Niagara supports the Teen Incentive Program (Y-TIP) for at-risk youth at both the YMCA of Greater Springfield (Mass.) and the YMCA of Hartford (Conn.). Program participants are provided mentoring and encouragement from counselors and earn a complimentary YMCA membership for positive school and performance achievements. More than 200 low-income youth benefit from this program.

• In Rochester, First Niagara supports WXXI Public Broadcasting Council’s American Graduate project, which addresses the city’s school dropout issue. The Homework Hotline project component features a daily live call-in series and website to assist students with their homework and introduces new problem-solving strategies. • First Niagara supports the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor’s Ticket to Ride program, providing eight Upstate New York school districts with exceptional education programs at historic sites and museums. In 2013, this enrichment program pulled together diverse partners to deliver unique educational experiences to nearly 2,600 school-aged children. • In Western Pennsylvania, First Niagara supports the Barber National Institute’s work to provide children and adults with developmental disabilities with the education, support and resources needed to be self-reliant, independent and valued members of their community. This multifaceted organization is headquartered in Erie and provides housing and supportive employment, as well as clinical and social services to thousands across the state.


Financial Literacy & Job Training

Powering tomorrow

In today’s global marketplace, financial wherewithal and job skills are more important than ever. First Niagara believes that equipping people with the skill-set they need to prosper in our rapidly-changing society is one of the finest investments we can make.

• In New England, First Niagara supports the Platform to Employment program (P2E), a career counseling program of The WorkPlace. Based in Bridgeport, Conn., the program is nationally recognized for its success in assisting the long-term unemployed find employment. • First Niagara supports Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson with its signature financial literacy project, “It’s Your Business – Run It!” Serving nearly 150 girls living in underserved areas of Orange County, N.Y., the young women who participate in the program learn the value of money, how to set financial goals and apply what they’ve learned to their own lives. • In Syracuse, First Niagara supports Green Train, an educational boot camp of the Near West Side Initiative Inc. and collaboration among the Northside Urban Partnership, Habitat for Humanity and CNY Works that teaches environmentally friendly job skills to local residents. The instruction includes skill development in weatherization, construction and work readiness, as well as English and math proficiency. Participants’ graduation and employment rates validate the effectiveness of this workforce development program. • First Niagara sponsors Rockland Economic Development Corporation’s Small Business Center, a free resource for small business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs in Rockland County, N.Y. In addition, Center clients also have access to professionals for consultation about lending, cash management and other financial services, and introductions to business resources through SBA, SBDC and SCORE. • Our company encourages business expansion and job creation in New England, assisting Hartford Economic Development Corp. and the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA). The organizations provide technical assistance and financial literacy support services to minority-owned small businesses in underserved communities, while encouraging business expansion and job creation. • Rochester’s East House Corp. provides essential services to individuals in recovery from mental illness and addictions. These individuals often live below poverty level and lack consistent employment, which limits their financial growth. First Niagara invests in East House Corp.’s financial literacy education programs, where counseling services help clients prioritize, save, deal with debt and ultimately become self-sufficient.

Spotlight on First Niagara Mentor Volunteers “The mentoring effect is a critical link in the chain of outcomes for our country’s youth that ultimately produces more active citizens and stronger leaders, better schools and healthier communities,” said David Shapiro, President & CEO, MENTOR: National Mentoring Partnership. Since 2007, First Niagara has provided $5.3 million in financial support and employee volunteers for highly effective mentoring programs serving young adults in need throughout New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Volunteering for Junior Achievement is always the highlight of my week. I have gained so much from this experience. The 7th grade class I taught was the most beautiful blend of different cultures that I have ever encountered. The children are incredibly bright and eager to learn. Most of them are very new to this country. Three years was the longest that any of the students had lived here. English was the second language for all of the students in the class. Through creativity and resourcefulness, I was able to connect with the students and get them to understand the concepts associated with the Global Marketplace course. I highly recommend JA to anyone considering a mentoring opportunity. This has been such a rewarding experience, and I’m really looking forward to my next class. – Gina LaPlante Vice President/Project Manager, First Niagara


As a mentor, I can make a difference in a child’s life, as well as my own. From the ages of 12-16, I had a mentor whom I always looked up to as a positive role model. Because my father always worked two jobs, my mentor was able to advise me when he was unable to. My mentor encouraged me to volunteer, participate in sports, and always reminded me of the importance of college to my future. She made a difference in my teenage years, and I will always be thankful for her guidance. – Estefania Vazquez Senior Customer Care Representative, First Niagara Volunteer Mentor, Governor’s Prevention Partnership, Conn.

Mentoring MattersSM

A world of good

Mentoring MattersSM is First Niagara’s corporate-wide charitable giving program that provides monetary and employee volunteer support to exemplary mentoring organizations.

In 2013, the Foundation awarded $1 million to 33 organizations, representing the strongest, most innovative program providers in the mentoring field. Nearly 45,000 youth participants received mentoring services in 2013 as a direct result of Mentoring Matters funding. Visit our website for a complete listing of grantees, Rochester New York Mentoring Matters: An exemplary collaboration model A unique partnership among funders and education experts in Rochester is attracting national attention. With funding from our Mentoring Matters program, Monroe Community College (MCC), St. John Fisher College (SJFC) and Junior Achievement of Rochester (JA) designed and implemented an enriched mentoring program at Rochester’s World of Inquiry School #58 (WOIS). The partnership provides students with a host of services: • The JA Pathways to Graduation component will deliver 35 financial literacy classes – over 4,200 mentor hours – to students in grades K-10 at WOIS. • A team of SJFC teacher candidates, faculty and student volunteers will partner with several WOIS teachers to provide a new extended school day program for 7th and 8th grade students, two days a week. • MCC faculty will assess, measure and intervene to improve college readiness in WOIS 11th graders. Students identified through placement testing will be provided with a number of essential supports with the ultimate goal of insuring that 100% of WOIS graduates are college-ready. Eastern Pennsylvania Mentoring Matters: A site-based model The Eastern Pennsylvania region is in its second year of an innovative site-based mentoring partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Through the Beyond School Walls program, elementary student participants are bused twice monthly to our regional offices to spend time with their First Niagara mentors. Twenty-five First Niagara team members serve as volunteer mentors in this successful program.


Building dreams

First Niagara is a huge proponent of initiatives that advance and increase self-sufficiency, stabilize housing, improve neighborhoods, encourage community collaboration and build partnerships.

• A major tipping point in advancing plans to build the University at Buffalo’s new School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in the flourishing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus came in 2013. First Niagara donated a key parcel of land, the site of our former Main High Branch, to the project. “When we were made aware of how important the land was to the university, we jumped at the chance to help,” said First Niagara President and CEO Gary Crosby in announcing the donation. The new medical school is now under construction and slated for completion in 2016. • First Niagara is the leading banking partner with Capital District Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring homes in the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood in Albany and the Fox Hollow project in Troy, N.Y. In addition to providing numerous volunteers to help on the build sites, First Niagara created a pilot mortgage program with Habitat and the Touhey Homeownership Foundation to expand participation in the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s First Home Club. First Niagara received the Consumer Bankers Association’s prestigious Joe Belew Award for our success in creating and maintaining affordable housing for low- and moderate-income individuals and communities in partnership with Capital District Habitat for Humanity. • We are a key partner in helping Housing Association and Development Corp. (HADC) of Allentown, Pa. rebuild after a devastating fire. HADC is utilizing grant assistance from First Niagara in partnership with other local corporations to transform a residential block of the Jordan Heights neighborhood, which was seriously damaged. It is being transformed into 21 new, safe, secure and quality homes for residents affected by the destruction.


• First Niagara is partnering with the Energy Innovation Center by providing innovative financing through the purchase of historical tax credits. Located in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the renovated property will be developed into a business and job training center focused on energy sector research and innovation, supporting entrepreneurship and job training through an early stage business incubator. The program will provide targeted workforce training programs to promote job creation and economic revitalization. • Our company demonstrates its commitment to the environment through a partnership with rePurpose and Green Standards to recycle nearly 29 tons of surplus furniture and to redirect additional furniture items to nonprofits in the Philadelphia area. Kicking off in 2013, the program is a part of a broader effort by First Niagara to recycle or repurpose excess furniture, equipment and hardware. • Rising Tide Community Loan Fund (RTCLF) is a strong community partner with First Niagara in Eastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on women and minority owned businesses in economically challenged communities, RTCLF identifies small business and community development credit needs that may stifle the creation of economic opportunities for growth and then meets those needs with affordable micro loans. • First Niagara is an investor in the Urban Grow Center in Troy, a project of the Capital District Community Gardens, Inc. This urban agriculture and fresh food distribution hub will bolster access to healthy food, ultimately tripling the Center’s ability to deliver local food and services to underserved neighborhoods and low-income families. Additional project components include job training for at-risk youth and adults, sustainable agriculture and nutrition education programming and a new fresh produce market.

Enhancing and inspiring 2013 Community Support Foundation $9,326,337 Corporate $2,542,719 Total Support (cash) $11,869,056 Number of Nonprofit Partners Supported

Historical Giving (Cash Payments)


Charitable Giving by Focus Area

$13,042,970 $11,869,056 26% $9,938,464 55% 19%


Youth & Education Community Development & Neighborhood Revitalization


Quality of Life (Arts & Culture; Health & Wellness) Year

09 10 11 12 13

Compassion drives communit y First Niagara Foundation teammates can assist you with questions and comments regarding our charitable giving policies and procedures. Elizabeth Gurney Executive Director First Niagara Foundation Florine Luhr Foundation Administrator First Niagara Foundation

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First Niagara 2013 Community Report  
First Niagara 2013 Community Report