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 3,500 children in the Greater Philadelphia region
Program has helped more than 215,000 children across the bank’s footprint since 2003
PHILADELPHIA (July 22, 2013) – As a way to help local children go back to school with the supplies they need to succeed, Citizens Bank will launch its annual Gear for Grades program on Monday, July 22. 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 eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware from July 22 through August 9. This year’s program is again in partnership with Cradles to Crayons, marking the fourth consecutive year Citizens Bank has partnered with the West Conshohocken-based nonprofit.
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. In addition to collecting school supplies in its branches, the Citizens Bank Foundation has awarded a $30,000 grant to Cradles to Crayons to support the purchase of 3,500 backpacks and additional supplies. 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 in mid-August.
“As a company committed to contributing to the health of our local communities, our Gear for Grades program is another way to show our customers that we care, while engaging them in our efforts to support local children,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “Helping children to feel excited and ready for the new school year is a small way that we can invest in our communities’ future. We thank everyone who will join us in supporting this year’s Gear for Grades program.”
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 Michal Smith, Executive Director 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 the greater Philadelphia region.”
To culminate the program, hundreds of volunteers from Citizens Bank and other corporations will stuff 22,000 backpacks with school supplies in one day. 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. School supplies collected in local Citizens Bank branches will support Cradles to Crayons’ year-round effort to keep children prepared for school.
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 of Pennsylvania
Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania is a state-chartered bank with dual headquarters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It has 375 branches and 1,001 ATMs throughout Pennsylvania. It also operates 12 retail branches and 95 ATMs in southern New Jersey, and a commercial loan office and 15 ATMs in Virginia. It is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $126 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I.
RBS Citizens Financial Group 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 (www.cradlestocrayons.org) addresses the poverty faced by one in five children in the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania area.* It provides these 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. We supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.
In 2011, more than 40,000 area children were served by Cradles to Crayons, the only local organization that maintains a year-round comprehensive and continuing program for collecting and providing necessary supplies to children in-need.
Cradles to Crayons provides KidPacks, a seven-day supply of everyday essentials, including clothing, footwear, infant safety equipment, toys and books, at a cost to donors of $25.00 per child, and backpacks, filled with notebooks, pencils, rulers, crayons and other grade-appropriate school supplies, at a cost to donors of less than $15.00 per child.