For over 30 years, the UU/Schools Partnership has worked to positively affect student outcomes, both academic and social, at Lincoln School #22 and Children’s School of Rochester #15. Our volunteers work to build students’ reading and math skills in small groups or individually. We partner with teachers for extended learning in a variety of clubs and enriching activities such as a chess club, book club, a 1:1 literacy program and hands-on science. We support school trips and special events both monetarily and with volunteers. In addition, the Partnership regularly reaches out to our congregation to fulfill special need donations (i.e. underwear, holiday store items) and to raise money to pay for school supplies and student enrichment activities. The congregation’s “Uknitarians” create an abundance of needed winter wear, and through our Backpack Program, we provide bags of food each Friday to students who might be going hungry over the weekend. The goal is to grow our volunteer team and become integral with our school families.

Contact: Joe Simson or Andrea Porter


Two weekends each month, our plate collections from First Unitarian are given to non-profit organizations and groups (501c3). The collections the church receives on the other weekends are designated for line items in the church budget that are connected to our Social Justice Ministry, and denominational activities.

Members and Friends of First Unitarian Church are invited to nominate an organization via our website, follow the link and the request will be electronically sent to the Plate Committee for consideration. Please be sure to include all information requested on the form.

Paper applications are also are available in the Church Workroom, and may be left in the Plate Committee mailbox off of Williams Gallery, or brought to the Church Office. Church staff and Plate Committee members may also submit nominations for a plate collection.

This team is led by Elaine Richane. Feel free to contact her directly for more information.


‘Tis the season to Give It Up for Good! Each year, at Christmas time, we as a community come together in an effort known as the Greater Good Project. We declare our value to live simply, so that others may simply live. We look at what money we will spend on the holidays, and sacrifice half of that amount to serve needs greater than our own.

This all-church endeavor asks us to bring meaning back to the holidays and tap into the strength and power of the spirit of the season. Each of us is asked to tally what we spend on the holiday season and take that number and cut it in half.  Contribute that amount to a project at the church – a gift to the Greater Good.

The children in our Religious Education program vote on which two of several applicant charities will share the donated money.  Since this endeavor was initiated in 2006, we have collected over $500,000 from members and friends of our church and members of the larger community.  These contributions remind us of needs greater than our own and lift up “living simply so others can simply live.”

Contact: Greater Good Committee


Connect & Breathe creates safe space to talk about abortion experiences by offering a talkline staffed by people trained to listen and provide unbiased support and encouragement of self-care. Whether abortion has affected you or a loved one, yesterday or years ago, Connect & Breathe is here for you. Connect & Breathe is a separate 501©(3) not for profit organization. It originated as part of the social justice efforts of the First Unitarian Church and in 2013 the congregation decided to continue supporting it as an on-going project. Learn More: Connect & Breathe.

Contact: Laura Humphrey or Julia Smith


UUSC is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. We envision a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights. Through a combination of advocacy, education, and partnerships with grassroots organizations, UUSC promotes economic rights, advances environmental justice, defends civil liberties, and preserves the rights of people in times of crisis.

Contact: Jack Maniloff


The Gilbert Spirit Fund was created to honor the 32 years of service of Rev. Richard and Joyce Gilbert to our church and community. Rev. Richard Gilbert served as Parish Minister of the First Unitarian Church from 1970 to 2002, and Joyce Gilbert, his wife, was very active in the church, especially in the field of music. Both of the Gilberts were deeply involved in the betterment of society beyond the walls of the First Unitarian Church.

The Gilbert Spirit Fund will lend support to programs/projects that reflect the special interests of Richard and/or Joyce Gilbert, giving preference to fresh ventures and new initiatives with existing endeavors. The funded programs/projects will:

  • Contribute to social or economic justice; or
  • Promote art and music as integral parts of a responsible search for meaning in life; or
  • Build or revitalize partnerships that support the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

Learn more/apply here


An opportunity for local projects to receive funding to promote peace and social justice in the Greater Rochester Area.  The two funds are:

Social Justice Outreach Fund: Proposals must focus on social service, social education, social witness or social action. Examples of activities funded in the past include expansion of youth programming, purchase or repair of equipment, advocacy services, and conference costs.

The Josephine and Paul Wenger Fund for Peace through International Understanding: Requires that the activity or project promoting peace through international understanding include a program that occurs locally.

General criteria for applicants to any of these funds include that groups receiving funds must be local (Greater Rochester area), nonpartisan, and not-for-profit.

Learn more/apply here


First Unitarian of Rochester is a member congregation of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), which is made up of over 1000 congregations and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.  Our church is also a member congregation of the UUA’s Central East Region.

Members attend the UUA General Assembly and Annual Meeting as delegates or observers. There are workshops held around the state in areas of interest such as social justice, religious education, and worship and the arts. The Central East Region website and calendar lists these events, and they are also featured in our weekly connections newsletter.