Project Uplift

An innovative $5 million grant from ESL Federal Credit Union will 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.

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.
Project-Uplift_Housing-Stability-(1).jpg   Housing-Stability.jpg
$4 million   $1 million
Project Uplift will 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.   Housing Stability initiative to directly support community members with housing needs such as lease down payments, rent assistance, foreclosure prevention and other critical housing challenges. 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.

How do I/the public get money if they are presented with a challenge as described above?
Should a person need immediate assistance or intervention, they should contact 211, our community’s single point of referral and local resources. 211 representatives will then support individuals by directing them to the right program to discuss needs and work directly with a case manager to identify solutions.

Why are the funds being distributed through nonprofit partners instead of directly to people presenting need?
The goal is to infuse dollars into the community quickly to help as many people as possible. The most effective way to do this is through the established distribution channels of United Way partners who are already working closely with people to identify their needs and barriers. We are fortunate to be able to leverage the expertise and strength of the network to ensure the effective distribution of these dollars. In addition, we do not want any individual incurring tax burdens based on receiving one time dollars directly.

Have other communities tried this strategy with success?
There is a similar program in Jackson, Mississippi that is having success at this strategy. Here in Rochester, our community’s history is one of innovation and resiliency. We believe that in order to drive change, we must try to address old problems with new solutions. For the housing stability project, this grant is a continuation of a 2018-2019 pilot in which we saw tremendous success and impact. We will track this current project closely and report on outcomes to enhance future strategies.

Can I donate to this cause/project?
Anyone interested in supporting United Way’s Innovation Grants may visit to contribute to the Community Impact Fund.

Is this support related to RMAPI and/or RMAPI recommendations?
United Way and ESL are both a part of the collective of RMAPI and each institution is seeking ways to help address longstanding poverty. Informed by the input from RMAPI, community meetings and the Community Advisory Council, this initiative is reflective of an effort to both advance the long-range work and address immediate barriers for our low-income neighbors.

Need help? 
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 you to organizations and programs that best meet your needs.