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Citizens Bank launches Gear for Grades to help children in need in Philadelphia area

Donates $25,000 and collects school supplies to fill thousands of new backpacks

PHILADELPHIA    (July 13, 2010) - Starting July 19, Citizens Bank will collect new school supplies for its Gear for Grades Initiative, an effort to help local children go back to school with the gear they need to learn. New pencils, folders, glue sticks, notebooks and other school supplies may be donated at any Citizens Bank branch in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware through August 9.

At a news conference today, Citizens Bank President and CEO Daniel K. Fitzpatrick announced that in addition to collecting school supplies, Citizens Bank is partnering with Cradles to Crayons and donating $25,000 to the nonprofit agency. The Citizens Bank donation will support Cradles to Crayons’ goal of filling a total of 10,000 backpacks for local children in need.

“Many of us are fortunate enough to remember the excitement that came with going back to school,” said Fitzpatrick. “Unfortunately, thousands of local 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 area school children by giving them the gear they need to succeed this year.”

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

Citizens Bank is asking its customers, colleagues and the general public to help by donating new school supplies such as pencils, pens, crayons, glue sticks, plastic rulers, erasers, safety scissors, spiral notebooks and pocket folders. School supplies may be donated at the 424 Citizens Bank branches located throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware between July 19 and August 9.

“We are so grateful to Citizens Bank for partnering with us and for helping us reach our goal of 10,000 backpacks this year,” said Kelly A. Clarke, Executive Director, Cradles to Crayons. “This program will provide the essential tools children need to concentrate on learning when they return to school.”

The $25,000 contribution from Citizens Bank is also helping Cradles to Crayons expand its reach beyond greater Philadelphia into Berks County, New Jersey and Delaware. Cradles to Crayons will work with local nonprofit agencies around the region to disseminate the backpacks and school supplies to children in need.

Intercultural Family Services, Inc., founded in 1979, is an example of a nonprofit agency that will benefit from Citizens Bank’s Gear for Grades Initiative. “Intercultural Family Services delivers services to children and families who are often disenfranchised,” said Myra Brown, Deputy Executive Director. “The backpacks and school supplies provided by Citizens Bank will be much needed and appreciated by those families who receive them.” 

Once the school supplies are collected, Citizens Bank and Cradles to Crayons will hold a “Backpack-a-thon” on August 30, 2010 at the Philadelphia Zoo. Hundreds of volunteers will stuff thousands of logo-free backpacks with school supplies. The backpacks will then be distributed to community partners and given directly to children who need them the most in time for the start of the 2010-2011 school year.

About Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania

Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania is a state-chartered bank with dual headquarters in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It has 383 branches and 657 ATMs throughout Pennsylvania. It also operates 15 retail branches and 65 ATMs in southern New Jersey and a commercial loan office in Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $144 billion commercial bank holding company headquartered in Providence, R.I.

Citizens Financial Group, through its subsidiaries, has more than 1,500 branches, and approximately 3,500 ATMs and approximately 22,700 employees. 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).

About Cradles to Crayons

Cradles to Crayons is a Conshohocken-based nonprofit with the mission of providing to children ages through age 12 some of the most important basics of life – free of charge.

These basics include clothing, school supplies, toys, and much more. In other words, we provide all the physical goods that children need to be safe, protected from the elements, and ready to learn. And by supplying them with high-quality used or new goods, we make children feel valued. We partner with social-service organizations to connect communities that have surplus resources – new or used items in good condition – with communities that desperately need access to those resources.