ESL Federal Credit Union reaffirms its commitment to Greater Rochester 100 years after its founding on Nov. 20, 1920.
Founded by George Eastman as the Eastman Savings & Loan Association, the institution was initially chartered as a vehicle to encourage thrift among Eastman Kodak employees with the ultimate goal of being able to purchase homes in an effort to build community.
One-hundred years later, as ESL Federal Credit Union, Greater Rochester’s largest financial institution, with more than $8 billion in assets, now employs more than 870 people, and serves more than 374,000 members and 11,400 businesses throughout Monroe and the surrounding counties. There is a Genesee County branch at 4214 Veterans Memorial Drive in Batavia.
“Our Purpose at ESL is to help our community thrive and prosper and living up to this Purpose will require us to take significant and impactful actions that help build a healthier, more resilient and equitable Greater Rochester,” said Faheem Masood, president and CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union. “Our Purpose and Mission motivate us to do what is best for our employees, their families, our members and the Greater Rochester community.
"The success of ESL over our century of serving the community by providing financial guidance and solutions, along with a superior customer experience, is all due to the trust and loyalty of our employees and members. The actions we take, whether sharing our financial success with our members through our Owners’ Dividend or reinvesting in the Greater Rochester community, would not be possible without their dedication and support.”
Opening its first community branch off of Kodak property in Irondequoit in 1995, ESL has now grown to a 22-branch network, with the recent announcement of its 23rd branch being built in Victor, and committing to the future construction of branches in traditionally underbanked neighborhoods. As of this date, the exact locations of future branches has yet to be determined, but ESL is looking at neighborhoods within the City of Rochester to better serve residents.
“The physical presence of financial institutions in communities has a direct impact on residents’ access to the financial products, services and resources that can help them thrive,” said Marcelina Nobrega Courtney, senior vice president/director, Retail Banking, ESL Federal Credit Union. “While the services utilized by our members may have changed, we continuously see an increase in traffic in our branches.
"Because of this we believe that we can best serve communities and neighborhoods when our branches and people can work directly with residents to help them live a financially healthy life.”
In addition to evolving its core banking products and services over the years, ESL has significantly increased its level of reinvesting in the community through grants to nonprofits. In 2019, ESL reinvested more than $16 million in grants. The institution expects reinvestments in 2020 to be approximately $20 million, with plans to increase its level of giving accordingly as the institution continues to grow.
“The reinvestments ESL makes through its philanthropic efforts focuses on specific areas that can help build a healthier, more resilient and equitable Greater Rochester,” said Ajamu Kitwana, vice president/director, Community Impact, ESL Federal Credit Union. “By focusing on employment, education, affordable housing and connected neighborhoods, we can make significant impact by investing in the excellent community resources already in place.
"We hope to inspire collaborative work that has a dedicated focus towards achieving common goals. It will take a collective effort to build Greater Rochester into the community we know it can be.”
ESL built its three community building objectives based on where reinvested dollars could have the most positive impact. These objectives are:
- Expanding Individual Opportunity: supporting programs and efforts to expand professional and education opportunity for all residents of Greater Rochester
- Building Strong Neighborhoods: investing in neighborhoods across Greater Rochester to ensure they are prosperous, well-connected and inclusive
- Strengthening Organizations and Systems: supporting organizations and initiatives by investing in the necessary yet less visible systems, capacities and policies that ensure they are successful
Today, ESL Federal Credit Union serves as a full-service financial institution to more than 374,000 members, employs more than 870 people in the Greater Rochester area and holds more than $8 billion in assets.
Since 1996, ESL has paid out 25 consecutive Owners’ Dividends to its members totaling more than $170 million. The company has appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for 10 years since 2010.
ESL Federal Credit Union is headquartered at 225 Chestnut St., in Rochester, and can be found online at www.esl.org