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First Niagara Contributes More Than $10 Million in 2014 to Enhance Communities

-- Company contributions support Community Development and Youth & Education --

-- First Niagara teammates donated an additional $500,000 and contribute more than 26,000 volunteer hours --

BUFFALO, N.Y., June 2, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.'s (Nasdaq:FNFG) support of programs in community development, as well as youth and education, included 26,000 employee volunteer hours and more than $10 million in charitable giving last year.

The company recently released its 2014 community report, highlighting some of the more than 1,250 non-profit partners, programs and people that First Niagara worked with to enhance communities across New York State, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

"First Niagara's customers and employees share a deep commitment to making a real and measurable difference in the communities where we all work, live and raise our families together," said Jennifer Sanfilippo Director, Corporate Social Responsibility. "We're pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many dedicated non-profit partners and are very proud of the grass-roots efforts undertaken by so many First Niagara team members in our communities, every day."

In addition to First Niagara's corporate and foundation grants totaling more than $10 million in 2014, the company's employees donated nearly $450,000 to the United Way's annual campaign, while local Employee Volunteer Councils held more than 250 events raising more than $110,000 for not-for-profit organizations and causes. The company also completed more than $155 million in community development loans to help spark economic development activities and job creation across its four-state footprint.

In order to make a meaningful and measurable impact, First Niagara focuses corporate and foundation grant making in a few core areas highlighted in the company's 2014 community report: "Building the Community. Shaping the Future."

Youth & Education

With the conviction that there isn't a single community that can't be improved by helping at-risk youth find a positive path toward a promising future, nearly half of First Niagara's giving is focused on youth and education programs, including the following:

  • Through its hallmark Mentoring Matters™ program, First Niagara reaches 40,000 young people annually throughout New York State, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
  • First Niagara took the lead in providing funds in New Haven, Conn. and Buffalo, N.Y., as each have established affiliates of the National Center of Arts and Technology. The Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) and the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) are shining examples of the Manchester Bidwell model for serving urban teens and underemployed/underserved adults.

Community Development

Every community the company serves has fueled its success. In turn, First Niagara is focusing its energy on revitalizing local economies by investing in startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as supporting non-profit and community-based partnerships, such as the following:

  • The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), less than three miles from First Niagara's headquarters, has proven to be a catalyst for growth and innovation in the region. First Niagara's $4.5 million investment in the BNMC since 2009 includes a $500,000 Business Development Fund unveiled in 2014 to support start-up businesses on and around the Campus.
  • First Niagara committed more than $500,000 in 2014 to Habitat for Humanity and other housing organizations. In Eastern New York, for example, First Niagara is the leading banking partner with Capital District Habitat for Humanity, sponsoring homes in the Sheridan Hollow neighborhood and the Fox Hollow project. First Niagara also partnered with Habitat and the Touhey Homeownership Foundation to create a successful pilot mortgage program.
  • First Niagara played an important role in cementing the partnership between research universities, corporations and economic development organizations by investing in Pittsburgh's new Energy Innovation Center (EIC) to jump start this incubator of emerging technology enterprises in the heart of the city's Hill District. The 6.6 acre urban complex may be the only technical education facility in the nation which co-locates in one building a world-class training curriculum, several postsecondary institutions, various major industrial partners, and numerous startup incubator companies, all dedicated to one, cutting-edge technological field: sustainable energy.

First Niagara remains committed to operating as a socially responsible company and during 2015, in addition to its corporate giving and community investment programs, will focus on areas including:

  • Continuing to support its employees and their volunteer efforts, with the goal of increasing the total number of employee volunteer hours by at least 15%, to more than 30,000 hours.
  • Expanding the company's Financial Literacy Program, including training sessions for low- and moderate-income families and individuals.
  • Retrofitting its bank branches and other offices with new, energy-efficient LED exterior lighting.

About The First Niagara Foundation

The First Niagara Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable entity. Founded in 1998, the First Niagara 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 2014, First Niagara contributed more than $10 million in charitable grants and sponsorships to community partners across the bank's four-state footprint. For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

About First Niagara

First Niagara, through its wholly owned subsidiary, First Niagara Bank, N.A., is a multi-state community-oriented bank with approximately 390 branches, $39 billion in assets, $28 billion in deposits, and approximately 5,300 employees providing financial services to individuals, families and businesses across New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts. For additional information on First Niagara, visit us at www.firstniagara.com, follow us on Twitter @FirstNiagara, or like us on Facebook at FirstNiagaraBank.

CONTACT: News Media Contact: Jodi Johnston (716) 270-8612 Jodi.Johnston@fnfg.com

Source:First Niagara Financial Group, Inc.