Businesses can be leaders in helping their communities develop sustainable futures. Since Stability is one of the key values of First Federal Bank, it’s a part of our foundation to provide sustainable solutions through multiple avenues. This includes bank operations and personnel enrichment, the clients we support and even our physical buildings.
Bank Outreach & Rewards
- Community Rewards Program - With the Community Rewards Program (CRP), customers help First Federal donate to specific projects when using their debit card. In 2021, First Federal committed $59,500 to local organizations through the CRP program.
- First Federal Way - Through the First Federal Way payroll deduction program, employees are able to direct a portion of their paychecks to charitable organizations. A year-end match contributed by the First Federal Board of Directors doubles the impact to these agencies. First Federal employees donated nearly $113,730 in 2021 to 55 local non-profit organizations!
- First Federal Foundation - The First Federal Foundation was established as a way for the organization to support community and economic growth on a larger scale, in addition to designating funds locally with guidance from the Commercial, Community Banking, or Residential Lending teams. Donations made in 2021 totaled $459,300.
- Community Contributions – The Community Banking and Commercial teams work with non-profits throughout the year and support them with volunteer efforts as well as direct donations. In 2021 over $200,000 was donated to charitable organizations through direct contributions.
- FFB is dedicated to supporting low and moderate income schools through sponsorship of financial literacy materials and classes. Through our online financial education program, 6 high schools offer students the opportunity to learn financial literacy, at no cost to the school, teachers, or students. In the 2020/2021 school year, there were over 1,440 student log-ins, 700 workbooks donated, and 750 hours of student activity.
First Federal Bank believes being a stable, financial pillar in the community helps improve the lives of employees and customers. Awards provide community or third party feedback that FFB is fulfilling that mission.
- Newsweek’s Best Small Bank in Florida for the last two years.
- 2021 SBA North Florida District Top Community Lender by # and $ of Loans
- Voted Best Bank in Lake City, FL and Beaufort, SC
Building Sustainable Teams
Promoting Health and Wellness (Employee Benefits)
- Health Resources through HR for promoting personal health and well being
- Employees are incentivized to have regular medical checks up as well as receive reimbursement for exercise/healthcare expenses. Additionally, LifeWorks is available for all employees.
- Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs are designed to ensure all employees are engaged, appreciated and our associates represent the diversity we believe is necessary to ensure respect, fairness and unique perspectives are represented.
- FFB’s CEO hosts quarterly “Ask Me Anything” lunch sessions to ensure team members from across the bank have an audience and can inquire about any business subjects. The questions and resulting answers are also posted on an internal intranet so that anyone may read the candid responses.
- True Blue is a fantastic FFB program that allows employees to recognize each other and management to share kudos and awards with team members.
- In addition to concerted training programs for existing employees, FFB has other programs designed to foster talent in our local communities. Our Internship Program supports banks in 2 high schools which are run by the high school students. After high school graduation, the interns may continue to work in various departments learning a trade including accounting, marketing, finance, or operations. There are also a number of interns who move into full time roles across the bank.
First Federal Bank has the privilege of supporting many clients through depository and lending relationships that provide more sustainable solutions environmentally, socially and ecologically. Following are a few examples.
SBA & Commercial Clients Projects Funded
- FFB has funded a BioDiesel Plant.
- A tree service company which has a positive impact on the environment by:
- The tree debris brought into their location is divided by type and size
- Other tree companies use our client for recycling and processing tree debris
- Products generated from debris include
- Mulch – Companies buy the mulch and process for re-sale
- Utilities by chips to burn for power generation (cleaner than coal)
- Any remaining debris is incinerated in an EPA certified burner on site and the ash from incineration is sold
Mortgage Programs supporting Energy Efficient Development
- Many of the homes financed are in planned developments and energy efficient, such as On Top of the World in Ocala, Florida.
Mental Health Support
- Clients supported through FFB offer services and solutions for mental health. One example is The Guest House Ocala who works with the Fire Department and School System to help develop community mental health programs. FFB provides essential loans to grow their business.
Community Development Lending
- Loans are designed to provide necessary services to low income or at-risk individuals including:
- At-risk seniors – a loan helped provide transportation to medical appointments, a food pantry, energy assistance, home delivered meals and home repair for poor housing conditions.
- Over a million dollars in other loans provided low-income apartment complexes that support affordable housing. The Bank maintains an excellent level of qualified investments that exhibit very good responsiveness to credit and community economic development needs. Investments include Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loan pools, grants to 11 community development organizations, and sponsoring financial education through schools in areas with defined development needs.
- In response to COVID-19, FFB quickly launched a program to facilitate the Paycheck Protection Act for small business owners.
- Lending Programs
- Some loan programs are designed to assist creditworthy, low to moderate income borrowers with solutions for financing the purchase or refinance of their primary residence. We participate in the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Program, which is a set aside products for low- to moderate-income borrowers, providing matching funds for the purchase of a home.
- Low Income Credit Union (LICU) investments support communities where 50.01% or greater of membership qualifies as low income.
- Directly, FFB has extended over $2M in loans and contributions to support services to the most vulnerable, at risk low income seniors.
- In one state within a year, many rural, veteran and first time home buyer loans were made: 66 USDA loans totaling $11.44 million, 1,303 FHA loans totaling $244.87 million, and 879 VA loans totaling $220.24 million.
- In order to save on paper and shipping, including gas to deliver paper statements, customers are encouraged to use electronic statements. Adoption has steadily increased since their introduction.
Conservation & Resource Management
- Remote Work is offered to select staff reducing greenhouse gas on commuting to work.
- Paper reduction through more digital documentation review:
- Implementing a digital loan system removed printing appraisals saving paper, toner and electricity.
- In 2018 moved the credit department moved to electronic loan files: savings are approximately 100 reams of paper annually which is nearly 50,000 sheets.
- LED Lighting: LED lights use energy much more efficiently than other types of bulbs, producing light up to 90% more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs and 80% more efficiently than CFLs. Throughout most of our facilities, interior and exterior lighting has been converted to LED, which also saves electricity and materials costs because the life span of LEDs far surpasses that of other bulbs.
- Recycling: Recycling and paper shredding programs have been implemented across our footprint, including on our main campus. In addition, electronics are recycled according to federal, state and local guidelines, as well as certified R2 and ISO 14001 guidelines.
- Printing and paper reduction: We have optimized many of our operational processes, including consolidating printers and increasing awareness of printing and paper use. These changes have helped substantially reduce our use of consumables such as paper, ink, and toner, while reducing electricity use and maintenance costs. Toner cartridges are recycled and paper waste is disposed of responsibly.
- Supplies and sourcing: Centralized sourcing for the purchase of office supplies reduces waste and lowers costs. Our robust third party risk management function works to ensure that our suppliers apply sustainable and resilient business practices.
- In office:
- Water fountains that have the addition of filling up reusable bottles with filtered water.
- Kitchens stocked with reusable cups, plates, flatware, and mugs.
- Coffee is stocked with containers of sugar and cream, not individual disposable packets and stirrers are wood, not plastic.
- Our Jasper branch was built as a LEED facility. A LEED building is more energy-efficient, costs less to operate, and may even feel better to be in. The Jasper construction project was led by a LEED-certified manager and includes design elements that reduce environmental impacts to save resources, considers human health, reduces carbon emissions and addresses climate change. Materials were locally-sourced and formaldehyde-free. Design encourages bike usage and utilized drought tolerant landscaping.