Impact Investing Profile: Pathfinder Bank

Pathfinder Bank tells us how a $500,000 deposit at their new Southwest Branch helped serve local residents who did not have easy access to a bank.

Pathfinder Bank’s new Southwest Branch opened in November 2022 to provide new opportunities to local residents who have historically not had sufficient access to retail banking. The company’s leadership intentionally chose to settle in an area that had experienced disinvestment and lacked sufficient financial services and education.

Located in a renovated century-old mansion on West Onondaga Street on the Westside of Syracuse, the new branch sits in one of Syracuse’s poorest census tracts – 65% are living below the poverty line and the median household income is $18,300. The physical proximity of the new branch allows community members to easily access banking services without needing vehicles or traveling long distances.

In order for the branch to be successful, it needed to meet a certain threshold of deposits within a specific timeframe. Understanding the impact this new development can have on the community, the Community Foundation made a $500,000 deposit. Our investment helped Pathfinder leverage additional investments and deposits that set the bank off on the right foot within its first few months.

The new branch offers specialized services for those facing financial challenges such as interest-bearing business checking accounts along with checking accounts with low or no cost that eliminate worries about overdrafts. Free financial literacy classes that teach people budgeting, basic banking and how to establish credit are also in the works.

What strikes the branch’s representatives most, though, are the personal connections they have been able to make. They are witnessing new small businesses attain funding that they may have struggled to receive before and customers being happy to find bank representatives who they can relate to.

Pathfinder’s new Southwest Branch is helping to transform the narrative of a neighborhood and foster a thriving and inclusive financial ecosystem where it is needed most.

Our impact investing program provides sustainable long-term benefit to the community while preserving capital and attaining a modest financial return. We engage in this practice by carefully selecting opportunities such as loans, equity investments, guarantees or recoverable grants that align with our mission and contribute to the betterment of Central New York. Learn more at cnycf.org/impactinvesting.

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