Everyone can get involved in giving back — here’s how

Muscato column header

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This philosophy runs deep at KeyBank, where we find our truest selves in the service of our local communities.

In fact, KeyBank was recently recognized by Points of Light as one of America’s 50 most community-minded companies — for the ninth consecutive time. The Civic 50 provides a national standard for corporate citizenship and showcases how companies can use their time, skills, and resources to drive social impact in their communities and company.

While this kind of recognition is nice, our reasons for committing ourselves to our local communities have nothing to do with the accolades or attention we get. We give generously of our time, talents and money because successful partnerships between businesses and nonprofits are the key to building successful communities. We give back because it’s the right thing to do, and to be honest, we do it because it feels amazing to do even a small part to contribute to the greater good.

But giving back doesn’t always look like big companies writing out big checks. It takes all of us — large companies, small businesses, individuals and selfless nonprofit organizations — to help our most underserved and vulnerable populations overcome the challenges that have been set before them and to build thriving, engaged communities where we all want to live, play and work.

Small businesses, mid-sized businesses, and even families and individuals have an important role to play in community giving. Determining the best way to make the biggest impact can seem daunting — but it doesn’t have to be.

Narrow your focus

Deciding where, when and how to give is the first step toward meaningful giving. It’s important to determine a giving strategy, and ideally one with your employees’ interests in mind. Uncovering what is meaningful to them, whether through casual conversations or more formal surveying, is an effective way to engage them in the process and start to prioritize.

The KeyBank Foundation has identified three “pillars” of giving: neighbors, education and the workforce. Start by developing your own pillars. Determine what’s important to you, to your employees and the culture of your organization, and build your giving strategy around those causes.

Give in ways that work for you

While every nonprofit needs funding to survive, there are many ways to give back that don’t involve making a financial commitment. Volunteering time for a specific cause is equally valuable and provides a meaningful way for your employees to put their abilities to use.

Serving on nonprofit boards or committees is another important way to contribute. The valuable donation of time gives nonprofit organizations access to highly qualified leaders, while fostering an “external” focus within companies, enabling staff members to concentrate on more than just their job, but rather on the diverse issues and challenges in our communities.

Feel good about giving

While there are definitely business benefits to corporate philanthropy, the most significant benefits of giving back are intrinsic. It feels good. It brings people together. And at the end of the day, it helps build stronger, better communities in which we can live our lives and raise our families.

If you’ve been contemplating how to give back, I hope you’ll take the leap. It’s ok to start small, just start. Because every little bit counts.

Phil Muscato is Market President and Commercial Sales Leader with KeyBank in Rochester. He may be reached by phone at 585-238-4159 or email at [email protected].

Any opinions, projections or recommendations contained herein are subject to change without notice and are not intended as individual investment advice. This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice. KeyBank is Member FDIC. KeyCorp.© 2022.CFMA #220929-1745080



KeyBank helps fund Goodwill’s 211/Life Line

Goodwill of the Finger Lakes is set to receive a $62,500 influx of funding from KeyBank Foundation, one of four annual installments in a $250,000 gift to the nonprofit organization.

Goodwill funds, manages and owns 211/Life Line, an accredited program through the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems, American Association of Suicidology, and International Council for Helplines for Online Emotional Support. The 24-hour program provides free assistance connecting to vital services within the community including help locating basic resources like food, clothing and shelter, as well as crisis stabilization.

The KeyBank funding will support the program’s operational expenses so it can continue to answer calls and inquiries from the Rochester community.

“We have had over 69,000 (calls) from community members who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic since March,” said Goodwill CEO Jennifer Lake in a statement. “At this time last year, we had less than 26,000 calls. Sometimes it’s putting dinner on the table for a family in partnership with Foodlink. Other times it’s helping pay next month’s rent so they aren’t evicted. We’ve heard so many different stories and it paints a very serious picture of what’s happening in Rochester. We’re here for them. We listen and hopefully make life a little easier.”

The organization works with the United Way of Greater Rochester Inc., Foodlink Inc., Ibero-American Action League, Catholic Family Center, the County of Monroe and the city of Rochester, among others, to connect community members to the services they need.

“The support that Goodwill of the Finger Lakes provides to this community through its 211/Life Line is crucial, especially due to the challenges many are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said KeyBank Rochester Market President Phil Muscato. “We are committed to helping this program succeed with this funding, enabling Goodwill to continue to respond to those who need help during this difficult time.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Dozens of small businesses receive KeyBank grants

Nearly 30 small businesses in the Rochester area have been selected for the Small Business Relief and Retooling Grant Program. The Urban League of Rochester N.Y. Inc. administered the program.

The program, funded by KeyBank Business Boost & Build powered by JumpStart, has awarded grants of up to $5,000 to businesses in the health and wellness, service, hospitality and lifestyle industries. Priority was given to businesses that were ineligible for emergency relief funding through the Small Business Administration. In addition to the grant, businesses also will receive technical assistance and one-on-one consultation.

Phil Muscato
Phil Muscato

“We are happy to provide this much-needed help to businesses in Rochester that have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Phil Muscato, KeyBank Rochester Market president. “We are grateful to our partners for the support that they have given to this program and urge everyone to support these local businesses.”

More than two-thirds of grantees are businesses owned by women, while 83 percent are businesses owned by persons of color, officials noted. The grants are intended to mitigate loss caused by the crisis by providing immediate cash to cover payroll expenses and other business-related expenses.

Award recipients include:
• Awesome Wonders Christian Childcare
• Bobo’s Chicken Shack
• MAJESTIC Total Fitness, Inc.
• Uncle Moe’s BBQ & Catering
• 81 Degrees Beauty Parlor
• Rochester Community Acupuncture
• Fountain of Youth Fitness
• Garden Market Inc.
• IMN Lightment Productions
• Little Black Buddha LLC
• MansaWear
• El Pilón Criollo
• Novus – Be Known Inc.
• Textures Beauty Bar LLC
• F & D of Rochester Inc.
• Juices Barber Shop
• Juniors Barber & Unisex Salon
• The Yard Collective
• Atlas Health & Fitness Center Inc.
• Lifetime Financial Group LLC
• New Tsingtao House Inc.
• Slay Beauty Bar LLC.
• Morgan’s Cereal Bar LLC
• Brooks Landing Diner
• The Groom Room Men’s Spa & Lounge
• Mighty Good Food LLC
• Worker B Jobs Inc.
• Release Bodywork Boutique

The grants are part of a plan by KeyBank to deploy $500,000 in relief funds to small business communities throughout Upstate New York in response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seanelle Hawkins
Seanelle Hawkins

“We want our local businesses to know that the Urban League and Rochester haven’t forgotten them. Our hope is that this fund will ensure that these businesses are able to not just survive the current crisis but to rebuild and flourish, coming back stronger as our area starts to reopen,” said Urban League President and CEO Seanelle Hawkins.

Wraparound technical assistance services will be provided by the Urban League, as well as TruFund Financial and the NY Entrepreneurial Center.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Funds available for MWBEs during pandemic

The Urban League of Rochester N.Y. Inc. has been selected to administer a $100,000 small business stabilization fund provided by the KeyBank Business Boost & Build Program powered by JumpStart.

The Small Business Relief and Retooling Grant Program will support minority- and women-owned businesses in Monroe County and is part of a $500,000 commitment by KeyBank and Jumpstart to provide relief to small business communities throughout Upstate New York in response to the economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Small Business Relief & Retooling Grant program will augment the city of Rochester’s successful Business Emergency Retention Grant (BERG) by providing targeted assistance to MWBE businesses. The BERG grants, averaging $2,000, may be used for working capital, business expenses to continue operations and to retain employees. Together, the two grants can provide qualified city businesses with as much as $7,000 in grant funding, officials said.

“I applaud KeyBank and the Urban League of Rochester for creating the Small Business Relief and Retooling Grant to help minority- and women-owned businesses survive the economic storm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren in a statement. “This grant will complement the success of the city’s Business Emergency Retention Grant and help keep minority- and women-owned businesses viable through this challenge. Public-private partnerships like this play a vital role in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

Vulnerable communities including communities of color have been particularly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Small business owners are facing challenges in sustaining their business during this period and many are ineligible or not positioned to receive federal relief funding, officials noted in the statement. The funding is intended to fill identified gaps in relief funding while also providing technical assistance and one-on-one business consultation, including financial resiliency training classes provided by the Urban League in partnership with TruFund Financial Inc., a New York City-based Community Development Financial Institution.

“The COVID-19 crisis has presented unprecedented challenges to small businesses in our region and they need our collective support,” said Phil Muscato, KeyBank Rochester Market president. “We are proud to partner with JumpStart to provide crucial funding, assistance and hope that will help our community move forward and recover.”

Eligible minority- and women-owned businesses in the industries of service and hospitality, lifestyle or health and wellness, can receive grants of up to $7,000 per business while funds last. Grants will be prioritized for those who could not receive or who were not eligible for emergency relief funding through the SBA.

“Now, more than ever, small business owners need the support of the Urban League to help pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Urban League President and CEO Seanelle Hawkins. “We are grateful to KeyBank for its continued commitment in supporting our community with a keen focus on small businesses. The program will help business owners implement resiliency and retooling strategies to help their businesses move forward and grow.”

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer