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Citizens Bank launches annual Gear for Grades initiative to send local children back to school with new backpacks and school supplies

Donation-based program will help 6,600 children in Massachusetts

Program has helped more than 215,000 children across the bank’s footprint since 2003

Boston (July 22, 2013) – Citizens Bank today announced it is launching its annual Gear for Grades program, which helps local children go back to school with the supplies they need to succeed. Customers and the public are welcome to support the initiative by donating new items like pencils, folders, notebooks, rulers and other supplies at any Citizens Bank branch in Massachusetts from July 22 through August 9. This year’s program is in partnership with Cradles to Crayons.

The Gear for Grades program is a part of Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities, the bank’s program for contributing to the economic vitality of communities. The Citizens Bank Foundation is donating 6,600 backpacks to the Gear for Grades program. Each backpack will be filled with some of the most needed supplies including child-safe scissors, pencils, pens, erasers, pocket folders, spiral notebooks, crayons, washable markers, rulers, glue sticks, colored pencils, pencil boxes and index cards. Backpacks will be distributed to local children beginning mid-August.

“The success of our Gear for Grades program demonstrates Citizens Bank’s commitment to strengthening communities by engaging our customers, colleagues and the communities where we live and work to pitch in to support local children,” said Jerry Sargent, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Massachusetts. “Helping children get geared-up and ready for the new school year is one more way that Citizens Bank is investing in the future of our Commonwealth.”

According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average American family will spend $688.62 on back-to-school expenses, up from $603.63 last year. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden.

“There are so many children in our state whose families lack the financial resources to purchase the most essential supplies for school,” said Lynn Margherio, CEO & Founder of Cradles to Crayons. “Every child deserves to have the best chance for success in the classroom and our partnership with Citizens Bank and its Gear for Grades program will help to make that a reality for thousands of children in Massachusetts.”

To culminate the program, hundreds of volunteers from Citizens Bank and other local corporations will stuff 30,000 backpacks with school supplies at Cradles to Crayons’ annual Backpack-a-thon on August 9 on Boston City Hall Plaza. The filled backpacks will be distributed through Cradles to Crayons’ network of community partners and given directly to children who need them most in time for the start of the school year.

Through the Gear for Grades program, more than 38,000 backpacks will be distributed across the RBS Citizens Financial Group’s (RBSCFG) footprint, through Citizens Bank branches in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and Charter One locations in the Midwest. Last year, RBSCFG colleagues volunteered at more than 75 events to stuff 28 tons of supplies into backpacks for donation. Since 2003, RBSCFG has provided more than 215,000 children with new backpacks and school supplies.

Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities is part of the bank’s broader Citizens Helping Citizens program addressing five key areas: hunger, housing, economic development, financial education and volunteerism. Get more information about Citizens Bank’s community initiatives online.

About Citizens Helping Citizens
Grounded in the belief that a good bank gives back to its community and to the people who live there, Citizens Helping Citizens is a program embracing the community goals of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc. – the commercial bank holding company serving consumer and small business customers as Citizens Bank and Charter One and commercial banking customers as RBS Citizens. The Citizens Helping Citizens program comprises five key initiatives supported directly by RBSCFG and also by its nonprofit charitable foundations, the Citizens Charitable Foundation, the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Charter One Foundation: Citizens Helping Citizens Fight Hunger, Citizens Helping Citizens Provide Shelter, Citizens Helping Citizens Strengthen Communities (economic development), Citizens Helping Citizens Teach Money Management (financial education) and Citizens Helping Citizens Give (volunteerism and colleague charitable donations). Across all of these initiatives, Citizens Helping Citizens strives to enhance quality of life and economic vitality in local communities.

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 254 branches and 754 ATMs in Massachusetts.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $126 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has approximately 1,400 branches, more than 3,600 ATMs and nearly 19,000 colleagues. Its 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. RBSCFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.

About Cradles to Crayons
Cradles to Crayons, a Boston based non-profit founded in 2002, provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive - at home, at school and at play. These items are supplied free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.

 

 

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