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SquashSmarts named Champion in Action in Philadelphia for its work in youth programming

Organization receives $25,000 grant and other benefits

PHILADELPHIA        (January 29, 2009) - Four of the region’s foremost corporate organizations announced today that SquashSmarts is the latest nonprofit to be named a Champion in Action®. SquashSmarts received the Champion in Action recognition because of its effective after-school programming that combines the sport of squash with academic tutoring and leadership instruction for under-served urban youth. As a Champion in Action, SquashSmarts will receive a $25,000 grant, media coverage, and extensive promotional and volunteer support over the next three months.

Champions in Action is an innovative program that provides various forms of support for small nonprofit organizations in recognition of their contributions to communities throughout the five-county Philadelphia area. Since the program’s inception in 2003, 20 Champions have been selected including today’s announcement.

“Citizens Bank is pleased to join NBC 10, Greater Philadelphia Cares, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News and Philly.com in naming SquashSmarts as our new Champion in Action,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank President and CEO for Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “Founded in 2001, SquashSmarts has already established a record of success among potentially ‘at risk’ inner city youth through its intensive curriculum of academic and athletic achievement, self-esteem, teamwork and leadership skills. Its program is successful and distinctive, in large part, because it begins with middle-school students and continues over the course of seven years.”

“NBC 10 is proud to be a partner with the Champions in Action program,” said Dennis Bianchi, President and General Manager of NBC 10. “Strong partnerships and programs such as this allow us to demonstrate our community commitment, and give us the chance to thank local nonprofits, such as SquashSmarts, that do so much good work in communities across our region. SquashSmarts is already working with 60 students three days a week throughout the year and expects to serve more than 120 students by 2012.”

“Beginning in the 6th grade, 20 new students are recruited each year on the basis of their commitment to the program, not their athletic or academic ability,” said Carol Dooling, Director of Communications and Partnerships at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com. “SquashSmarts has been hugely successful in its goal of 100-percent matriculation and on-time graduation from middle school to high school and enrollment in college.”

“Volunteer support is essential to an organization such as SquashSmarts ” said Renee Archawski, Executive Director of Greater Philadelphia Cares. “Greater Philadelphia Cares will be able to help  identify community-service projects for the students and assist in recruiting additional adult mentors to support SquashSmarts’ mission.”

SquashSmarts Executive Director Stephen Gregg and his staff learned that the nonprofit was selected as a Champion in Action during a surprise segment of the 10! Show on NBC 10. As a Champion in Action, SquashSmarts will receive: 

• A $25,000 contribution in unrestricted funds from the Citizens Bank Foundation.
• Media coverage from NBC 10, including public service announcements and profiles.
• Advertising space in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and on Philly.com to promote both the program and the organization.
• Volunteer support from Citizens Bank, NBC 10 and Greater Philadelphia Cares.
• Extensive public relations support.
• Promotional support, highlighting the Champion in Action in all Citizens Bank branches.
• Exposure on the Web sites of Citizens Bank, NBC 10 and Philly.com.
• Consulting and implementation services, provided by Greater Philadelphia Cares, to leverage volunteer support that enhances impact.

Applications are still being sought for additional Champions in Action with the following topics and deadlines: Financial Literacy, April 24, 2009 and Community Arts, July 17, 2009. In April, a Champion in Action will be announced for a nonprofit working in the area of housing.
About Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania

Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania is a state-chartered bank with dual headquarters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It has approximately 400 branches and more than 690 ATMs throughout Pennsylvania. It also operates 15 retail branches and 37 ATMs in southern New Jersey and a commercial loan office in Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $161 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I.

Citizens Financial Group, through its subsidiaries, has more than 1,600 branches, 3,500 ATMs and 24,000 employees. CFG’s two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a 13-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, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. CFG has non-branch retail and commercial offices in about 40 states. It is one of the 10 largest commercial banking companies in the United States ranked by assets and deposits. CFG is owned by RBS (The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc).  

About NBC 10

NBC 10, one of 10 Owned & Operated NBC television stations, is located in Bala Cynwyd, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. Millions of viewers throughout Greater Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, South Jersey and Delaware tune into NBC 10 everyday for the most up-to-date news, weather, sports, consumer, health and traffic reports. NBC 10’s 5 p.m. news ─ “All That & More” ─ is the only fully interactive news program in the region. Viewers also tune in daily to watch “The 10! Show,” an upbeat, one-hour lifestyle and entertainment show featuring local, national and internationally known celebrities. The program airs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. Recognized as the No. 1 Web site (www.nbcphiladelphia.com ) in the top 50 markets, NBCphiladelphia.com received the prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Award.

About Philadelphia Media Holdings

Philadelphia Media Holdings, LLC, is the leading media company in the Philadelphia region. Privately held and locally owned, PMH is the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, philly.com, related online products and several community newspapers. With almost one million people reading The Inquirer each day, and 1.6 million on Sundays, The Inquirer is the region’s most-read daily newspaper. Together with the Daily News, the No. 1 tab newspaper in the region, which reaches 500,000 readers each week, and philly.com, the No. 1 Web site in the region, Philadelphia Media Holdings, LLC, reaches almost 2 million people each day.

About Greater Philadelphia Cares

An award-winning nonprofit, Greater Philadelphia Cares is committed to empowering individuals to realize their ability to contribute to the community in meaningful ways. By providing a variety of flexible, tangible volunteer opportunities, Greater Philadelphia Cares is continuously enhancing the ability for volunteers to serve the community.

About SquashSmarts

SquashSmarts combines the sport of squash with academic tutoring and mentoring of under-served, urban youth in order to develop self-esteem and discipline through academic, athletic and personal achievement. SquashSmarts Web site is www.squashsmarts.org