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Citizens Bank Foundation issues $70,000 in Energy$ense grants to help nonprofits address heating and energy costs in Philadelphia

Bethesda Project awarded $25,000 to defray energy costs of shelters

PHILADELPHIA         (March 10, 2009) - The Citizens Bank Foundation announced today that it will donate $70,000 in grants to four area nonprofits as part of its Energy$ense program. During a volunteer activity, Citizens Bank awarded a $25,000 grant to Bethesda Project – a nonprofit agency that provides shelter, housing and supportive services to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens.

The grants are part of Citizens’ Energy$ense program, a multi-faceted initiative to help homeless shelters, local nonprofits and consumers address heat, utility and other energy costs. The $25,000 grant from Citizens Bank Foundation will help Bethesda Project to defray virtually half of this year’s projected $51,000 in heating costs, at a time when resources are stretched thin and demands for services are rising. 

“While everyone’s feeling the sting of high energy prices in a struggling economy, nonprofits, which run on exceedingly tight budgets, have really struggled this winter,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank President and CEO for Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “By assisting worthy organizations such as Bethesda Project, we enable these groups to focus on their core missions instead of worrying about their energy bills.”

As part of the grant presentation, Citizens Bank volunteers prepared and served lunch to approximately 49 residents of Bethesda North Broad Street, a permanent residence for formerly homeless men and women. Since 1979, Bethesda Project has provided high-quality services to the chronically homeless, encouraging them to believe in the possibility of their personal transformation. Bethesda Project operates 14 programs and locations for single, adult men and women who are homeless and isolated from friends, family and community.

“We’re extremely grateful for the encouragement and financial support of the Citizens Bank Foundation,” said Bethesda Project Executive Director Angelo Sgro. “Our services are required more than ever now and every dollar helps. This generous contribution goes a long way toward helping us accomplish our mission, especially during the cold weather months. This will cover about half of this year’s projected $51,000 in heating bills.”

The Energy$ense program also includes two below-market interest-rate, unsecured loans for qualified borrowers to make energy-efficient upgrades or improvements to their homes. Customers who take advantage of the discount borrowing opportunity by March 31, 2009, will have the option to defer their first payment for 90 days. The two loans offered as part of the Energy$ense program are:

• The Citizens Bank Energy Efficiency Loan – designed to help income-eligible borrowers and/or those who live in targeted geographies, finance weatherization projects to help make their homes more energy-efficient. The $1,000, 3% APR fixed-rate loan has a three-year term with a low monthly payment of $29.08 per month. There are no fees or closing costs associated with the loan. Under the same guidelines and for larger home-improvement projects, Citizens Bank also is offering a 5% APR on loans up to $10,000 at terms payable up to seven years.

• The EZ Home Improvement Loan – a $1,000, 3% APR fixed-rate loan, is available to income-eligible borrowers, and/or those living in targeted geographies, who want to update their homes. Citizens is offering a 6% APR on loans for larger home-improvement projects, up to $10,000, payable up to seven years.

To apply for an EZ Home Improvement Loan or Citizens Bank Energy Efficiency Loan, homeowners should visit a Citizens Bank branch or call 1-877-TOP-RATE. To be eligible, borrowers must live in a low or moderate-income neighborhood, or have income that is less than 80% of the median income.

Through Energy$ense, Citizens is providing consumers information about ways they can stay warm and safe during the winter. Helpful tips include choosing electric heaters and extension cords that are UL rated, insulating pipes and water heaters, and installing carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.

In addition to today’s $25,000 grant to Bethesda Project, the Citizens Bank Foundation will also award an additional $45,000 in Energy$ense grants to three separate nonprofit agencies in the greater Philadelphia region.

About the Citizens Bank Foundation

Citizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs.