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School on Wheels of Massachusetts named Champion in Action in youth programming category

Citizens Bank and NECN provide $35,000 grant, PR, and volunteer support

BOSTON – Citizens Bank and New England Cable News (NECN) today announced School on Wheels of Massachusetts (SOWMA) as the first 2014 Champion in Action® in the category of youth programming. SOWMA will receive a $35,000 unrestricted grant, media coverage, and extensive promotional and volunteer support for its outstanding work.

“School on Wheels of Massachusetts is a Champion in Action for the services they provide that enable homeless children to flourish in school and in life,” said Jerry Sargent, President, Citizens Bank, Massachusetts. “The impact of this program supports our focus on strengthening communities and the belief that every child deserves the chance to succeed in school.”

Launched in 2002, Champions in Action is a joint initiative of Citizens Bank and NECN to recognize and support nonprofit organizations for their contributions to Boston communities.

“NECN is a proud partner of the Champions in Action program,” said Mike St. Peter, Senior Vice President and General Manager, NECN. “School on Wheels of Massachusetts is a model for not only engaging children academically, but also helping them overcome the challenges of homelessness. We are delighted to help build awareness around the organization's important work.”

To date, the program has awarded 42 nonprofits more than $1.1 million in grants and promotional support in Boston.

“School on Wheels of Massachusetts and the Citizens Bank and NECN Champions in Action program are great examples of how the public, private and non-profit sectors are finding creative ways of collaborating to ensure that Massachusetts students have the opportunity to excel in school,” said Matthew Malone, Secretary of Education, Massachusetts.

Founded in 2004, SOWMA was designed to break the cycle of poverty by providing academic aid and one-on-one mentoring for homeless children in Massachusetts. SOWMA has since grown to train 1,332 volunteer tutors, distribute 4,753 backpacks, and become a leading support system in combating homelessness among children. The grant will be used to bolster its effort to “Educate and Mentor Homeless Children in Massachusetts” as well as establish an internship stipend to improve capacity.

“As a Champion in Action, we look forward to helping more children in our state impacted by homelessness achieve a quality education and reach their full potential” said Cheryl Opper, founder and executive director of School on Wheels of Massachusetts. “This award from Citizens Bank, will help us strengthen our academic support services, spread awareness about family homelessness in our state and provide opportunities for volunteers to make a difference in their community. Our ultimate goal is for our students to become self-sufficient adults and break the cycle of homelessness through their education."

Champions in Action

SOWMA has provided major academic support so far, including:

  • Launching 21 tutoring sites
  • Recording 22,717 hours of tutoring hours
  • Serving 1,524 students

As a Champion in Action, School on Wheels of Massachusetts will receive:

  • A $35,000 contribution in unrestricted funds from the Citizens Charitable Foundation;
  • Media coverage from NECN, including public service announcements and television profiles over the course of six months;
  • Volunteer support from Citizens and NECN colleagues;
  • The opportunity for the organization’s executive director to participate in a “President-to-President” mentorship with Citizens Bank Massachusetts President Jerry Sargent;
  • Extensive public relations support;
  • Promotional support highlighting the Champion in Action on all Citizens Bank branch DCN screens and on its ATMs;
  • Exposure on both Citizens Bank and NECN websites.

For more information about the Citizens Bank / NECN Champions in Action program, visit www.citizensbank.com/community/champions or www.necn.com/championsinaction. To learn more about how to contribute to School on Wheels of Massachusetts through donations or volunteerism, call 508.587.9091 or visit www.SOWMA.org.

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 254 branches and 758 ATMs in Massachusetts.

RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $132 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has more than 1,400 branches, approximately 3,600 ATMs and approximately 18,950 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.

About NECN
NECN serves as the largest 24-hour regional news network in the U.S. Since its launch on March 2, 1992, NECN has grown to include 3.6 million subscribers in more than 1,050 cities and towns throughout all six New England states. NECN has established itself as an industry leader as the only cable television news station to earn a George Foster Peabody Award and the Alfred I. duPont - Columbia University Broadcast Journalism Award, among many other accolades.



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