LISC National

First Federal, NeighborWorks, LISC Announce Gateway Loan Program


TOLEDO (June 13, 2019)— First Federal Bank, NeighborWorks Toledo Region, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Toledo gathered to celebrate the launch of the Gateway Loan Program on Thursday, June 13. 

The Gateway Loan Program is designed to help Toledoans improve credit quickly, while also working toward long-term financial stability. Approved participants in the program will make a monthly contribution to a First Federal Bank locked savings account for a year, with support and guidance from their Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) coach. Each on-time payment will receive a $25 match from LISC, and will be reported to the credit bureaus. At the end of the year, participants will receive their $300 contribution back to use as they wish, while the $300 match must be used for additional credit building activities, such as obtaining a secured credit card or paying down debt.

“We are thrilled to partner with LISC and NeighborWorks to make this program available in the communities we serve,” said Reginald E. Temple, Director of Community Development for First Federal Bank. “Individuals who choose to enroll in the Gateway Loan Program will have the full support of the partnership as they work to achieve long-term financial stability,” he added.

“We know the lasting impact of financial stability can have on families and the community. With this program, we are proud to continuously reinvest in our communities as part of our Better Together philosophy,” said Martha Woelke, First Federal Bank Director of Retail Lending.

The program is designed specifically for individuals with no or low credit scores. Participants in similar programs have seen credit score improvements of 100 points in just six months.

“People with no or low credit scores pay higher interest rates and have a harder time accessing credit for large purchases like vehicles or homes, which makes it an uphill battle to financial stability,” said LISC Program Assistant Shaulonda Jones. “That’s why building credit is such a major focus of LISC’s FOC model.”

A key component of the Gateway Loan Program is the relationship between participants and their FOC coaches. Throughout the program, participants will continue to meet regularly with their coaches to develop strategies for increasing income and accessing additional supports and resources as their credit improves.

“Participants will form and maintain crucial partnerships with their financial coach and First Federal Bank during the program,” explained Nicole Reno, Financial Opportunity Center Manager at NeighborWorks Toledo Region. “Many people with credit problems feel stuck with them, and do not have a positive relationship with any financial institution. The Gateway Loan partnerships ensure that participants are educated, empowered, and connected to develop healthy financial habits and build long-term financial stability.”

Individuals interested in participating in the Gateway Loan Program should contact the NeighborWorks Financial Opportunity Center at (419) 776-2103.



About First Federal Bank and First Defiance Financial Corp.

First Defiance Financial Corp. (NASDAQ:FDEF), headquartered in Defiance, Ohio, is the holding company for First Federal Bank of the Midwest, First Insurance Group. First Federal Bank operates 44 full-service branches and numerous ATM locations in northwest and central Ohio, southeast Michigan and northeast Indiana and a loan production office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. First Insurance Group is a full-service insurance agency with nine offices throughout northwest Ohio. For more information, visit

About LISC
Together with residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. It combines corporate, government, and philanthropic resources. Since 1980, LISC has invested $20 billion to build or rehab 400,500 affordable homes and apartments and develop 66.8 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. In Toledo, LISC has focused on a comprehensive approach to community development, investing $160 million to fuel economic opportunity and build stronger, healthier neighborhoods. For more information, visit

About NeighborWorks

NeighborWorks America is the country's preeminent leader in affordable housing and community development.  They work to create opportunities for lower-income people to live in affordable homes in safe, sustainable neighborhoods that are healthy places for families to grow. The NeighborWorks Network delivers many of its community-focused programs and services through the National NeighborWorks network - 235 independent, community-based nonprofit organizations servings more than 4,500 communities.  Together with its national and local partners, NeighborWorks provides grants, programmatic support, training and technical assistance to its national network. For more information, visit