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Citizens Bank launches annual Gear for Grades initiative to send local children back to school with new backpacks and school supplies

Donation-based program will help 1100+ children in Connecticut

Program has helped more than 215,000 children across the bank’s footprint since 2003

MIDDLETOWN, C.T. (July 18, 2013) – As a way to help local children go back to school with the supplies they need to succeed, Citizens Bank will launch its annual Gear for Grades program on Monday, July 22. Customers and the public are welcome to support the initiative by donating new items like pencils, folders, notebooks, rulers and other supplies at any Citizens Bank branch in Connecticut from July 22 through August 9. This year’s program is in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Hartford, the Valley Shore YMCA, the Wallingford YMCA and the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents (CAFAP) - which are all accepting donations at their locations as well.

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. The Citizens Bank Foundation is donating 1,000 backpacks to the Gear for Grades program. Each backpack will be filled with some of the most needed supplies including child-safe scissors, pencils, pens, erasers, pocket folders, spiral notebooks, crayons, washable markers, rulers, glue sticks, colored pencils, pencil boxes and index cards. Backpacks will be distributed to local children beginning August 19.

“As a company committed to contributing to the health of our local communities, our Gear for Grades program is another way to show our customers that we care, while engaging them in our efforts to support local children,” said Ned Handy, President, Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Connecticut. “Helping children to feel excited and ready for the new school year is a small way that we can invest in our communities’ future. We thank everyone who will join us in supporting this year’s Gear for Grades program.”

According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average American family will spend $688.62 on back-to-school expenses, up from $603.63 last year. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden.

“There are so many children in our state whose families lack the financial resources to purchase the most essential supplies for school,” said Margaret Doherty, Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents. “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 more than one thousand children in Connecticut.”

According to James O’S. Morton, Esq., President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Hartford, “The YMCA is proud to partner with Citizens Bank in supporting students throughout the greater Hartford area. ‘Gear for Grades’ will help hundreds of students be ready to return to school. This program helps families provide their children with the essentials for the new school year.”

In addition to collections at each Citizens Bank branch, participating YMCAs and the CT Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents (CAFAP) will also be accepting donations at the following locations.

  • CAFAP - 2189 Silas Deane Highway, Suite 2, Rocky Hill
  • Downtown YMCA – 241 Trumbull Street, Second Floor, Hartford
  • East Hartford YMCA – 770 Main Street, East Hartford
  • Farmington Valley YMCA, 97 Salmon Brook Street, Granby
  • Indian Valley YMCA, 11 Pinney Street, Ellington
  • Valley Shore YMCA, 201 Spencer Plains Road, Westbrook
  • Wallingford YMCA, 81 South Elm Street, Wallingford
  • Wheeler Regional YMCA, 149 Farmington Avenue, Plainville
  • Wilson-Gray YMCA, 444 Albany Avenue, Hartford

Both the YMCA and the CAFAP have been assisting with promotion of the Gear for Grades program and will encourage their members and supporters to donate supplies. Volunteers form both the YMCA and CAFAP will also assist with stuffing donated items into backpacks and distributing them to children who need them most.

Through the Gear for Grades program, more than 38,000 backpacks will be distributed across the RBS Citizens Financial Group’s (RBSCFG) footprint, through Citizens Bank branches in New England and the Mid-Atlantic and Charter One locations in the Midwest. Last year, RBSCFG colleagues volunteered at more than 75 events to stuff 28 tons of supplies into backpacks for donation. Since 2003, RBSCFG has provided more than 215,000 children with new backpacks and school supplies.

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 47 branches and 125 ATMs in Connecticut.

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.