Community Partnerships

Community Partnerships

The mission of United is excellence in service to our employees, our customers, our shareholders, and our communities. To us, providing excellence in service extends beyond banking. It includes giving back to the communities in which we live and work.

United employees are deeply engaged in their local communities, volunteering approximately 30,000 hours annually. They routinely contribute their financial and banking expertise to consumers and small businesses through board memberships, financial literacy or homebuying workshops, credit counseling, financial planning and reporting, fundraising, and loan underwriting.

Our mission is to help educate and prepare as many 1st time homebuyers as we can. Our primary focus is on low- and moderate-income clients, however we work with all income levels. Our work is critical in the community because it is important for 1st time homebuyers to be prepared and educated about the homebuying process so that they are successful homeowners for life. It’s easy to purchase a home but it’s much harder to keep the home. We focus a lot on making sure that our clients will be able to sustain the home that they purchase.

The process of obtaining a grant with GMM was extremely easy for our clients because it is done at the time of application when a property has been identified. The grant has allowed our clients to be able to purchase their homes and have the benefit of a nice cushion in the bank after closing.

Additionally, United continues to build robust community partnerships across our footprint, donating millions of dollars each year to programs and causes, such as scholarships, after-school programs, affordable housing initiatives, financial empowerment seminars, social service agencies, work study programs, and more.

In January 2017, United launched a Community Reinvestment Action Committee of employees eager to lead their colleagues in community engagement. These individuals have various roles across the institution, yet represent the Company in their local markets. Individuals serving on this committee conduct outreach events and spearhead volunteer activities for their colleagues. The Action Committee provides a rewarding leadership development opportunity, and many committee members note that it is a highlight of their work responsibilities.

United is proud to partner with Junior Achievement in Morgantown, WV and in DC Metro. Junior Achievement is a national financial literacy program that equips young people for economic success. In 2022, United volunteers impacted over 631 students through the program.  

United touches thousands of organizations a year through volunteerism, donations, or community development lending. We have formalized relationships with Premier Partners, organizations who work closely with us to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities for our employees. Their missions align with our priorities of serving historically underserved families or small businesses, and they work with us on moving the needle in meaningful ways on key challenges. In 2022, our employees impacted approximately 5,000 clients of these partners through volunteerism. We work with Premier Partners to better understand community needs and shape our services to meet those needs. Partners include after school programs, affordable housing solutions, nonprofits that offer financial coaching to empower underserved families, domestic violence shelters for women in need, workforce development, and drug use recovery programs.

United retail staff go out of their way to make banking services accessible to all. 

Through our Rewards Bank at Work program, branch employees visit employers to discuss the value of banking and open checking accounts onsite. United also offers the Rewards Bank at Work program at community development nonprofits. In 2022, United employees discussed this program with over 200 prospective customers that earn under 80% of the area median income annually.

We also work to increase banking accessibility through a wide variety of product and service options. These range from in-person to online to mobile, interactive teller machines to small business remote deposit, and extended Customer Care Center hours.

Financial Literacy

Equipping our customers with the tools and knowledge they need to be financially successful is essential to our work as bankers. United’s financial literacy program includes bank-wide participation in specific campaigns but is also flexible and locally responsive. As part of our commitment to help our customers and communities make informed financial decisions, employees spearhead partnerships with local nonprofits to provide educational workshops to various audiences, including low-income individuals and families and small business owners. Whether it’s teaching youth about the importance of saving or educating individuals on how to avoid common financial mistakes, we aspire to help the people in our communities succeed.

America Saves Week: United kicks off each year with an annual America Saves campaign. America Saves is a national nonprofit aimed at supporting everyday Americans in saving money, reducing debt, building wealth and creating better financial habits. The campaign is a call-to-action supported by thousands of organizations, providing a framework for households to set a goal and make a plan to enhance their savings habits.

Teach Children to Save: Teach Children to Save is a national campaign sponsored by the American Bankers Association Foundation, aimed at mobilizing bank volunteers to visit area schools and conduct presentations aimed at helping elementary and middle school students develop savings habits. United team members utilize their financial expertise to educate local students on a variety of financial topics, such as identifying the difference between wants and needs, why banks are a safe place to keep money, budgeting and understanding personal investments. In 2022, United employees impacted approximately 4,000 students at schools across our footprint where 50% or more of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

#BanksNeverAskThat: In recognition of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, United participates in the #BanksNeverAskThat social media campaign on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. #BanksNeverAskThat was initiated by the American Bankers Association to help people protect their bank accounts. Scammers are taking advantage of the expanded use of digital banking platforms and tricking consumers into giving up their personal and financial information. To further empower our customers to spot phishing scams, United supplemented the social media campaign by providing materials and discussing these topics to customers in our branches. 

Money Moves with United, Learn the Plays to Make the Right Financial Moves:  In partnership with Clemson University, Money Moves with United offers a tailored approach to financial empowerment. The program provides student-athletes with relevant, purpose-driven, and accessible content geared toward linking dreams of tomorrow with the decisions of today. The program is separated into three main sections, focusing on introductions to financial literacy, four strategic money moves: saving, spending, borrowing, and planning, and tax awareness. 

Community Development Loans and Investments

In 2022, United originated $253 million in loans and investments to support affordable housing, services for low- and moderate-income families, small business growth, or community revitalization. This includes equity investments to community development finance institutions used to provide low-cost capital to small and minority business owners. The financing is paired with technical assistance to ensure their success during particularly challenging times such as the ongoing pandemic.
  • Affordable Housing: As the affordable housing crisis continues to swell across the nation, including in the Nation’s capital, United’s commitment to affordable housing continues to grow. We have supported the creation or retention of over 3,000 affordable housing units through loans and investments.
    • Washington Housing Impact Fund Investment: United was the only community bank to step up as an inaugural investor in the Washington Housing Initiative’s Impact Pool, contributing $5 million to the now $115 million fund. This innovative tool provides secondary financing to acquire or develop affordable housing communities, enabling the owners and developers to secure long-term, lower cost permanent financing. A portion of impact pool profits are donated to fund long-term affordability and neighborhood services. The pool supports workforce housing in high-impact locations, allows transactions to close more quickly and with lower compliance costs, and is a model that can be applied at scale. To date, the Impact Pool has invested in over 2,500 units across DC, Maryland and Virginia. 
    • Justice Housing Partners Fund: United provided a founding $250,000 investment at below-market rate in this DC-focused housing impact fund. United was the only financial institution to invest in the innovative Justice Housing Partners Fund which allows nonprofit affordable housing developer Jubilee Housing to react quickly when a property comes on the market – meeting a critical need in filling a financing gap that tax credits cannot adequately meet. United has since increased our involvement to $500,000, a significant contribution to the long-term sustainability of affordable housing in two gentrifying neighborhoods. Thus far, 7 properties have been purchased or placed under contract using fund equity; they are expected to provide over 275 additional units of affordable housing.  As other forms of equity are secured, they replenish the Justice Housing Partners Fund, enabling the fund managers to repeat the process with another property.
    • Greenville Housing Impact Fund: The Impact Fund, established by the Greenville Housing Fund, has been used to acquire, develop and preserve 456 homes in strong workforce locations across Greenville County (SC). The fund supports both new construction and housing preservation.   The initial $4 million fund will be invested in $68.5 million of total real estate development, acquisition and rehabilitation.  The Greenville Housing Fund works to identify amenity-rich properties close to employment centers, schools and medical facilities, aiming to reduce travel costs for residents living in their communities. United was the first investor in the Impact Fund, committing $1 million to the $4 million pool.
  • Opportunity Scholars (OS):  United was an early investor in this life-changing program that closes the achievement and wealth gap for students with limited means. OS takes an innovative approach of financing students’ education through Income Share Agreements. They begin working with students in high school, providing culturally-relatable counselors who work with students and their families to formulate a plan for education and training after graduation.   In high school, student scholars are exposed to employment pathways that lead to high demand, living-wage jobs like nursing, criminal justice and technology.   Scholars receive upfront education costs through Income Share Agreements which scholars repay upon securing a good-wage job. These differ from scholarships, removing financial barriers without removing fiscal responsibility.  Student engagement has reached 276 students representing five (5) high schools in the Shenandoah Valley (VA).  Current participants are primarily female (53%) and culturally diverse (81%).   United committed $50,000 of below-market-rate capital per year over a 5-year period for a total of $250,000.

United also partners with micro-lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), nonprofit lenders with a mission to provide financing to underserved and under-resourced communities.  CDFIs play an important role as a trusted connection within the financial system. They provide financial education and advisory services and business coaching. They also offer low-interest rate loans that support communities through small business growth and/or helping individuals build wealth.