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Citizens Bank will send 14,000 children back to school with new backpacks filled with school supplies

Initiative has helped more than 253,000 children across the bank's footprint since 2003

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (August 21, 2013) – Citizens Bank is helping 14,000 students start the school year with new backpacks filled with school supplies through its Gear for Grades program in partnership with Back to School Celebration of RI. More than 12,000 pounds of pencils, pens, folders, notebooks, glue sticks and index cards were donated by the public in all 82 branches across Rhode Island. Gear for Grades was organized in partnership with Back to School Celebration of RI, 92 PRO-FM and Coast to Coast Promotional Products.

According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average American family spent $688.62 in 2012 on back-to-school expenses. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden.

"With the rising cost of school supplies, the Gear for Grades program helps to ease the financial strain parents face this time of year as they prepare to send their children back to school," said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Rhode Island. "We are proud to play a small role in contributing to the academic success of so many local children who return to the classroom ready to learn. We thank our customers and the general public who continue to support this program by donating new school supplies that make a big difference to the children who receive them. I also want to thank Back to School Celebration of RI, 92 PRO-FM and Coast to Coast Promotional Products for helping make this program a great success."

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. Citizens Bank colleagues and community members volunteered to help fill the supplies in logo-free backpacks donated by Citizens Bank Foundation to help ensure children have a positive experience as they return to the classroom. The backpacks were distributed to children at 11 different locations statewide on August 17.

"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 Rhode Island," said Jorge Cardenas, President, Back to School Celebration of RI. "The new backpacks and school supplies will make the return to school a more exciting time and a less stressful one for their families."

Backpacks were distributed to more than 38,000 children across RBS Citizens Financial Group's footprint where it operates as Citizens Bank in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and Charter One in the Midwest. Since 2003, the Gear for Grades program has sent more than 253,000 children from low-income families back to school with tools to help them learn.

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 82 branches and 190 ATMs in Rhode Island.

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.