As a mission-driven company, we can't help but be obsessed with putting our resources to work in the communities where we live, work and bank. We know that when organizations our size put our boots to the pavement, we're not only making a difference today but for decades to come. When all of these areas are functioning together, we're not only changing lives but we're changing neighborhoods.
We invite you to download our 2020 Community Development Report, which is outlined below, and join us in making a difference in our communities.
A Year Unlike Any Other
Being a community bank has always meant putting the needs of our customers first. While it’s our privilege to put our customers first, it’s first and foremost our responsibility. As the immediate impact of COVID-19 became evident, our teams swiftly established financial flexibility options for our customers, including loan forbearance assistance, a repossessions reprieve, 90-day relief from late or overdraft fees, and interest-free loans for employees. We became the first community bank to join the PA CARES program, and second bank overall in the state.
Our teams also showed an incredible ability to be nimble for businesses by our all-hands-on-deck approach, allowing us to process every one of the more than 5,000 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications we received from our customers. This means nearly $600 million in funding and upwards of 80,000 of our neighbors’ jobs protected.
We’ve maintained our financial commitment to our communities, with more than $31 million in Community Development Investments, which included a $150k “Be a Part” customer and employee match give in the spring and our $100,000 Share Warmth give in November, which was matched by utility companies to give a combined $200,000 which helped more than 550 families pay their utility bills this winter.
Community development focused on providing equitable access to safe and affordable housing has continued to make the difference for committed community banks. And the right strategic approach to community development means building relationships that extend past writing a check. Like Board of Directors involvement. Business planning and financial planning support. Homeownership counseling. Downpayment assistance. It all adds up to make sure that our communities are functioning on all cylinders to be the best resource they can to their neighbors.
And as we know, job stability is a critical component of this strength. In 2020, we provided $61 million through 95 SBA loans for businesses throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, and across our footprint and earned Top SBA Lender #2 Pittsburgh, #4 Cleveland and the #4 PPP Lender in Southwestern PA.
“First Commonwealth is doing things in the neighborhood where they don’t even have a branch. For me, that is impressive. The level of things that we’ve done with them just shows that the work around community development, mission around community development is for the region and not just for communities where they have a branch. That really says a lot about the bank.“
Making Home Possible
While 2020 was a difficult year for many, historically low rates made affordable homeownership a reality for many. In 2020, we financed more than $572 million in mortgage loans, including more than $13 million through our First at Home program- designed to provide flexible down payment and closing costs for eligible first time homebuyers paired with best in class educational resources.
In addition to helping families buy the homes of their dreams, we’re proud of the work we’re doing to help communities create homeownership opportunities across our footprint. By partnering with organizations like the City of Bridges Community Land Trust in Pittsburgh and the Central Ohio Community Land Trust in Columbus, Ohio, we’ve helped support a new and intuitive model for promoting homeownership and preservation of existing homeowners through a difficult economic climate. With partnerships like those in land trusts we can help create homeownership and preserve vibrant, diverse neighborhoods for decades to come.
Empowering Our Neighbors
Perhaps no area of our community impact was more affected in 2020 than our financial education. Historically dependent on entering classrooms and community centers, the opportunity to adapt to virtual delivery was rich - and needed to be done quickly.
Not only did the pandemic create the need to deliver services virtually, but it greatly impacted the financial lives of many of our customers and neighbors throughout our footprint. Financial education was essential, along with providing financial flexibility through our products, to make sure that our neighbors were best equipped to weather the pandemic.
The increased awareness of racial inequality also reinforced our commitment to reaching neighborhoods rich in diversity by partnering with diverse organizations. As we look forward to 2021, we know our ability to deliver meaningful financial education virtually will only increase our opportunity and impact.
When Technology Drives Opportunity
Our partnership with Franklin County Child Development Center in Ohio allowed us to virtually reach parents and kids in LMI communities, including the local Head Start program. We provided financial education to their staff, including delivering curriculum on topics such as cash flow, setting savings goals, and budgeting when staff were switched from a weekly to bi-weekly play schedule.
In September, we launched a new digital banking platform for both consumer and small business customers, significantly enhancing the accessibility and usability of our online banking and mobile app. As the pandemic pushed customer digital banking habits multiple years ahead, we were positioned to respond with our new platform which includes an integration of Zelle® as well as a budgeting tool, balance alerts and more.
2019 Educational Session
Giving Our Time
Our employees showed up in 2020. During a year that could have deterred many from offering their time, our teams did the opposite and donated more than 13,000 hours of their time to help the organizations in their communities.
This time has perhaps never been needed more, as we watched our community partners adjust to their own limitations set forth by stay at home orders and in order to keep their staff and clients safe.
One of the greatest needs to emerge this year was from organizations that provide critical services including free distribution of meals. This was especially critical for students studying virtually and for families whose income was recently impacted. Our employees found safe and meaningful ways to assist these partners, as well as quickly adapted to leading virtual Board of Directors meetings finding innovative ways to steer these organizations to have meaningful impact regardless of limitation.
What Adapting Looks Like
Of our volunteer hours, more than 4,800 were through Board of Directors servant-leadership, including President and Vice-President roles. These employees played a critical role in helping our non-profit partners shift to virtual delivery of both their operating models but how they deliver services to clients and raise funds for those services. By committing hours to organizations like the Stark County Community Action Agency, Salvation Army Chapters and local food banks, we’re helping to position these organizations to continue their critical work for our neighbors.
A long-standing corporate partner with First Commonwealth Bank, the local United Way chapters in our footprint became a force of impact in the neighborhoods they serve. Our employees continued to give their time serving on local Boards, committees, and leading the charge in assisting the United Way offices in innovating new ways to reach their clients and meet the ever growing demands throughout the year. Our employees also made payroll contributions to United Way chapters in 18 counties.
In accordance with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Regulation, Section 345.43, First Commonwealth Bank is required to maintain and, upon request, make available for public inspection a complete Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Public File. The information provided is current as of April 1 of each year and can be found on the CRA Public File page.
Contact Our CRA Team
Evan Zuverink, Community Reinvestment Act Officer
Gabrielle Whittaker, Regional CRA Officer - Ohio Markets