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Citizens Bank launches "Growing Communities" to bolster Rochester neighborhoods

$121,500 initiative includes a "Curbside Market" that will provide fresh produce and cooking demos and a grant competition for a pilot program to transform two neighborhood corner stores into full line food stores

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (June 6, 2013) – Citizens Bank today unveiled Growing Communities, a neighborhood revitalization initiative designed to provide access to healthy food, support youth development, and offer nutrition and financial education programs in Rochester, anchored in Marketview Heights. The Growing Communities initiative is funded by $121,500 in grants from the Citizens Bank Foundation. The announcement was made during a press conference with Mayor Thomas S. Richards, elected officials and community leaders.

"Growing Communities is focused on making the Marketview Heights area of Rochester more economically stable, healthy and livable," said James P. Gaspo, President of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, New York. "In collaboration with local nonprofits, we aim to provide an innovative model of community support by offering regular and dependable access to healthy and affordable food options to those living in ‘food desert’ neighborhoods. The initiative will also help stimulate the local economy through homeownership and financial education programs spurring economic growth in these neighborhoods."

Elected officials, community leaders and residents of the surrounding neighborhoods attended the announcement and unveiling of the Curbside Market, a mobile community resource that will sell fresh produce at affordable prices, helping to increase access to produce in several underserved neighborhoods, including Marketview Heights. On behalf of Citizens, Gaspo presented a check for $121,500 in support of the neighborhood programs under the Growing Communities initiative.

"The City of Rochester is proud to collaborate with Citizens Bank and the community organizations involved in this effort, one that will help to increase access to healthier foods in the neighborhoods," said Mayor Thomas S. Richards. "’Growing Communities’ is a great example of how corporations can work alongside nonprofits to take actions that will have a significant and positive impact on the health of our residents and the education of our youth."

In addition to running the Curbside Market, Foodlink will also work with Citizens Bank to offer a grant competition to local corner stores in Rochester. The "Growing Communities Healthy Corner Store Grant Competition" will serve as a transformation pilot program for two neighborhood corner stores to become full line food stores providing residents with access to additional sources of healthy food options. One selected store will be located in Marketview Heights and the other will be located in another Rochester neighborhood. The application can be found on the Foodlink website (www.foodlinkny.org) and is open through August 31, when a steering committee will select the two winners.

"By supporting Foodlink, Citizens Bank is demonstrating its confidence in our ability to make a positive impact on this essential area that lacks access to healthy food options," said Tom Ferraro, Executive Director of Foodlink. "We are excited to be a part of the Growing Communities initiative and to use this opportunity to debut our Healthy Corner Store and Curbside Market programs that will help to improve the health of kids and families in at-risk neighborhoods."

Under the Growing Communities initiative, Citizens will also support local nonprofits such as Pathstone, which provides a summer youth program.

"We are proud to join Citizens Bank in taking an active role in the continued revitalization of the Marketview Heights neighborhood," said Pamela Reese-Smith, Community Project Administrator at Pathstone. "The 'Field to Table program provides positive development and leadership training while teaching sustainable urban gardening, nutrition and budgeting to youth. With this support, we can continue to educate youth about healthy food choices so they can improve their quality of life."

Specifically, the Growing Communities initiative in Rochester includes the following elements:

  • The "Curbside Market," a mobile market that Foodlink will operate five days a week, all year round, providing access to fresh produce and cooking demonstrations in food desert neighborhoods throughout Rochester;
  • "Healthy Corner Store Grant Competition," to create two pilot transformations of neighborhood corner stores into full line food stores in Rochester;
  • "Field to Table," a youth summer program provided by Pathstone that teaches sustainable urban gardening, nutrition, exercise and budgeting at the children’s garden in Marketview Heights;
  • Counseling for first-time homebuyers in conjunction with the Marketview Heights Association to increase successful homeownership in the local neighborhood; and
  • "Citizens Bank Business Development Series," a program of seminars provided by the Market District Business Association for business owners in Marketview Heights on topics including business strategic planning and marketing.

Growing Communities is a neighborhood revitalization initiative that Citizens Bank has launched in five states and has committed to three others across its footprint. Over the next several years, Citizens Bank will add new programs and grants to support neighborhood development projects through the Growing Communities initiative.

About the Citizens Bank Foundation
Citizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on human services, affordable housing and economic development. RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com.



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