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Citizens Bank collecting school supplies for local children in New Hampshire

Gear for Grades initiative to help more than 3,000 children in New Hampshire and more than 23,000 across the Citizens Financial Group footprint

Manchester, N.H. (July 20, 2010) -  Starting on July 19, Citizens Bank will collect new school supplies as part of its Gear for Grades initiative, an effort to help local children go back to school with the supplies they need to learn. New pencils, folders, glue, notebooks and other classroom supplies can be donated at any Citizens Bank branch in New Hampshire through August 6. This year’s Gear for Grades program is supported by PlusTime NH, 95.7 WZID, and the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Citizens Bank is donating 3,000 backpacks to the program. The backpacks will be filled with the donated school supplies and distributed to youth programs throughout the state beginning August 16. Through Gear for Grades, 3,000 children in New Hampshire will receive a new backpack and school supplies. This year, more than 23,000 backpacks filled with new school supplies will be distributed to children across the Citizens Financial Group footprint.

“Many of us are fortunate enough to remember the excitement that came with going back to school – the chance to buy new school clothes, supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes,” said Carol-Lynn Saliba, Director of Retail Banking. “Unfortunately, thousands of children don’t have this experience because for them, school supplies are a luxury. Citizens Bank hopes to make going back to school a little more exciting for New Hampshire school children by giving them the gear they need to succeed this year.”

Now in its fifth year, the Gear for Grades program has been a successful effort year after year, providing more than 12,000 backpacks to New Hampshire school children since its inception.

PlusTime NH, Citizens Bank’s Gear for Grades’ partner, has identified youth programs in the state to receive the filled backpacks and will distribute the backpacks to children throughout New Hampshire who need these supplies the most. Radio station 95.7 WZID and the New Hampshire Union Leader are promoting Gear for Grades and encouraging listeners and readers to donate supplies.

“We’ve been proud to be connected with Gear for Grades and look forward to this year’s drive.  As a family-oriented radio station, the importance of a good education for all of New Hampshire’s students is also important to us and we’re glad to help out in any way we can,”  said WZID afternoon drive host and program director Dave Ashton. “In addition to donating at local Citizens Banks through August 6, we hope listeners will join WZID’s Heather Bishop on July 31 from 10 a.m. to noon, at the Amherst Wal-Mart.  We’re making it easy to donate and stay connected to New Hampshire.”

According to Teresa Robinson, Community Relations Manager for the Union Leader, this is an excellent way to help New Hampshire school children prepare for a successful school year.

“The New Hampshire Union Leader is pleased to be part of this important effort to provide school supplies and backpacks to children throughout the state as part of our support of education. We know we can always count on the generosity of Granite Staters to help those in need, and we look forward to seeing and sharing the smiles on the faces of the children who receive the backpacks,” said Robinson.

 According to a National Retail Federation survey in 2009, the average family with at least one child in grades kindergarten through 12 is expected to spend $548 on back-to-school expenses. For many families, those costs are out of reach.

“Three thousand kids will be getting off school buses across the state, not only ready to learn, but with smiles on their faces… the kind of smile that says it’s a new school year and I’m ready for it,” said Cynthia Billings, president and CEO of PlusTime NH. “Gear for Grades is a great program and we appreciate the opportunity to be a partner.”

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 83 branches and 150 ATMs in New Hampshire.

RBS Citizens, N.A. is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $144 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 about 40 states. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).