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Champions in Action program celebrates 10 years of success

Citizens Bank recognizes award winners and impact of program at annual Community Partners event

Concord, NH (January 25, 2012) – Citizens Bank New Hampshire and WMUR-TV celebrated today the 10th anniversary of Champions in Action®, a program that supports nonprofit organizations in New Hampshire working in specific areas of social concern. The celebration took place at Citizens Bank’s annual Community Partners luncheon held at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.

Champions in Action is an innovative program launched in 2002 by Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV to recognize and support nonprofit organizations for their contributions to the Granite State. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the program has awarded 45 New Hampshire nonprofits nearly $1 million in grants and public relations and promotional support. Throughout Citizens Financial Group’s footprint, the Champions in Action program has provided more than $6.5 million in support to 253 organizations.

“Since we launched the Champions in Action program more than 10 years ago, we have been able to honor many deserving organizations in the state,” said Joe Carelli, President of Citizens Bank New Hampshire, in his remarks to the more than 120 community leaders who attended the reception. “Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV have successfully partnered to create a lasting network of Champions, providing nonprofits with financial assistance and significant promotional support. Today we bring this group together to celebrate our collective successes and recognize the growth and positive outcomes of the program.”

Leaders and directors of past Champions organizations applauded the program for its significant impact, reporting that it provided critical financial resources, raised their visibility in the media and the community, and helped attract additional volunteer and financial support.

Melinda Davenport, weekend anchor for WMUR-TV, moderated a panel discussion at the event to highlight the impact and lessons learned from former Champions. David Wood, Executive Director of AHEAD, a nonprofit organization that provides safe, affordable housing, financial education, and home-buying opportunities to northern New Hampshire families in need, added that a key impact for his organization was a mentoring opportunity for their homeownership manager. Wood was a member of the panel and praised Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV for their recognition of the type of support that is so critical to a nonprofit’s success.

A Champion in 2011, More than Wheels provides financial education and helps low-income families obtain reliable transportation. Terri Steingrebe, Chief Executive Officer of the organization and another panelist today, said that as a result of the publicity associated with the award, More than Wheels experienced a 103 percent increase in calls from potential clients, boosting enrollment in the program by 78 percent. More than Wheels also leveraged Citizens Bank’s relationships with larger employers in the state to bring their program offerings to them.

“Being named a Champion last year was significant for our organization as we had recently changed our name and we were focused on getting the word out,” said Steingrebe. “This award gave us the confidence and power to put the organization out there, and we met with great success. There was a tremendous impact on the number of inquiries we received for services, we were able to incorporate media and social media into our ongoing communications strategy, and we formed a collaboration with UNH Cooperative Extension that had great impact for us beyond the terms of the award. We couldn’t be more appreciative to Citizens Bank and WMUR-TV for their assistance in creating this success.”

Another former Champion and panelist reported that while the grant funds are important, the public relations and promotional support enhances the program’s value.

“Being a Champion helped us tell our story and increased awareness of our work and our programs across the entire state,” said Jim Nute, Executive Director of The Mayhew Program for at-risk boys in New Hampshire. “It has had lasting impacts on our organization in the form of ongoing financial support, networking and continued visibility.”

The Champions in Action program has been recognized by community leaders, customers and peer banks as innovative, creative and effective.

“We are proud to salute the outstanding commitment and efforts of all our Champions – past, present and future,” said Carelli. “We recognize that our success is tied to the strength of our communities. We will continue to reinvest and focus our giving on some of the most critical issues facing the state, including affordable housing solutions and health and human services. We believe that’s what being a good citizen is all about.”

For more information about the Champions in Action program, visit www.citizensbank.com/community.

About Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 82 branches and 203 ATMs in New Hampshire.

RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $132 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 12-state branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont, and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).