Union Home Mortgage Owner and CEO Bill Cosgrove recognized a deep need for financial literacy in the local community when he launched the Union Home Foundation in 2015. Cosgrove not only wanted to provide homes to prospective homebuyers, but more importantly, offer education, services and tools for economic self-sufficiency.
“At Union Home we are all about homes, but we wanted to build a mission that focuses on getting families to a place where they can stay in these homes,” said Executive Director of the Union Home Foundation Christina Fagan.
Two years ago, when Fagan joined Union Home Foundation, she embarked on a “listening tour” where she discovered the philanthropic interests of Union Home Mortgage employees, also known as Partners, across each branch. Fagan’s journey led to the creation of four pillars the Foundation represents today:
Cosgrove’s original mission to provide Union Home financial education to the local community.
Union Home partners with various nonprofits that provide the disadvantaged (single parents, underserved communities, homeless individuals, jobless and families, as well as those with a past criminal background) with proper resources to help lead them to career opportunities.
Union Home partners with various nonprofits that further education for underserved adults, including literacy skills and the opportunity to earn their GED.
Union Home partners with nonprofits that help those encountering an unexpected life event by providing bridging resources.
The last of Union Home Foundation’s four pillars, Transitional Resources, stemmed from a partnership started four years ago when the Foundation teamed up with the MBA Opens Doors Foundation. This national foundation helps families with critically ill or injured children stay in their homes while a child undergoes treatment. Cosgrove was able to connect Akron Children’s Hospital with MBA Opens Doors — helping more than 120 families in the local Cleveland area.
Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Union Home has multiple branches spanning across 35 states. The foundation partners with a number of local and national nonprofits that mirror each of the four pillars.
These nonprofits include:
• Neighborhood Housing Services (OH)
• CHN Housing Partners (OH)
• Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland (OH)
• Empowering and Strengthening Ohio’s People (OH) • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (IN)
• Housing and Education Alliance (FL)
• Homestretch (VA)
• Center for Financial Health (MI)
• Towards Employment (OH)
• Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland (OH) • The Literacy Cooperative (OH)
• Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice (OH) • Minds Matter Cleveland (OH)
• College Now of Greater Cleveland (OH)
• Homeless Youth Connection (AZ)
• Cleveland Kids Book Bank (OH)
• Saint Martin de Porres (OH)
• Seeds of Literacy (OH)
• Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges (OH) • Greater Cleveland Volunteers (OH)
• MBA Opens Doors (DC)
• Greater Cleveland Food Bank (OH)
• Community Harvest Food Bank (IN) • Enterprise Community Partners (OH) • Volunteers of America (OH)
The Union Home Foundation has provided more than $530,000 to local communities over the past three years, including 35 grants to 25 different nonprofits in seven states.
In March, the company launched a payroll deduction option for Partners to give back to the Union Home Foundation. Since its inception, 25% of the company has enrolled, contributing more than $80,000 in annualized amounts.
“Community engagement isn’t something we take lightly and seeing how many of our Partners are emulating our culture in the office every day and outside the office is inspiring. It’s the backbone of our culture and has been from day one,” Cosgrove said.
Union Home focuses on two major donation drives each year. In the summertime, the company holds a Back to School Supply Drive with regional nonprofits, where Partners and volunteers outside of the company participate in filling backpacks with supplies for children in need. In 2018, 18 branches participated in the drive, resulting in 780 total filled backpacks.
During the holidays, Union Home hosts Partner Up for Plates, a hunger relief drive. At the company’s headquarters in Cleveland, the drive is a competition between each department to encourage Partners to participate. Last year, over 30 Union Home branches participated, and a total of 33,000 food items were donated to local food banks across the country as a result.
In efforts to encourage Partners to dedicate volunteer time to the local communities, Union Home offers Partners a volunteer time-off (VTO) policy. Full-time Partners have 16 hours of volunteer paid time off and part-time Partners are granted eight hours of VTO.
To inspire Partners to explore their passions and celebrate those that do, the company selects five winners each fall for the Partner Impact Award. The selected winners receive a $2,000 grant to the charity of their choice.
“We try to find ways to encourage partners who aren’t particularly passionate about the Foundation’s four pillars to donate volunteer time to the causes that matter most to them,” Fagan said.
Additionally, Union Home dedicates one month out of the year to encourage volunteerism. In April, Union Home Partners completed over 330 hours of service with 33 different service opportunities.
Determined to get Union Home Foundation’s name recognized by the local communities as a helping neighbor, the foundation began hosting their own events in 2018. The 2nd annual Hustle for Homeownership 5K was recently held at corporate headquarters, where over 150 individuals participated, both in person and virtually. The event involved a fair for local community members and UHM partners to enjoy snacks, raffles, live entertainment and to learn more about four of the Foundation’s financial literacy nonprofit partners.
Another event the Foundation hosted for the first time in 2018 was a formal Gala, themed “Breaking Ground.” With more than 480 people in attendance at Cleveland’s well-known Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Gala highlighted the work of one non-profit under each of the four pillars, raising more than $148,000 in donations and presenting each with a grant of $25,000.
“Our inaugural Gala event was a huge success for the Foundation and the nonprofits we partner with,” Fagan said. “We look forward to a second Gala in 2020.”
Since its inception in 1970, Union Home Mortgage has guided thousands of potential homebuyers through the process of achieving homeownership — arguably one of the biggest financial investments one will make in a lifetime. To support the company’s mission — and encourage responsible homeownership —Union Home Foundation continues to find charitable ways to give back to the communities, get Partners involved and be a good neighbor.
“I’ve always believed that what happens outside the four walls of our organization is just as important as what happens inside. That applies to industry advocacy; our relationship with the national Mortgage Bankers Association and giving back to our local communities.
“From Partner Up for Plates, our Partner Impact Awards, Operation Backpack, the Gala we hosted, everything we are doing has a clear goal and you can just see how much our Partners are doing to support those goals,” Cosgrove said.