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

Donation-based program will help 2,000 children in Michigan

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

Southfield, Mich (July 17, 2013) – To help local children go back to school with the supplies they need to succeed, Charter One will launch Gear for Grades as part of the Hunger Free Summer 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 Charter One Branch from July 22 through August 9. This year’s program is in partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank.

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 Charter One Foundation is donating 2,000 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 in August.

“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 Ken Marblestone, President, Charter One and RBS Citizens, Michigan and Ohio. “Helping children to feel excited and be prepared for the new school year is a small way we can invest in the future of our communities. We ask everyone to 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, a 12% increase from last year. For low-income, at-risk or homeless families, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a barrier.

“There are many children in our state whose families lack financial resources to purchase the most essential supplies for school,” said DeWayne Wells, President Gleaners Community Food Bank. “Every child deserves to have the best chance for success in the classroom and our partnership with Charter One and its Gear for Grades program will help to make that a reality for thousands of children in Michigan.”

Gleaners Food Bank will distribute backpacks to children it serves. 104.3 WOMC will be promoting Gear for Grades and airing public service announcements encouraging listeners to donate supplies throughout the two-week campaign.

On July 22, all Michigan Charter One branches will host a customer appreciation event, in honor of the thousands of customers whose donations will help start the campaign. WOMC will also host a live broadcast on July 22 at the Lathrup Village Charter One Branch, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. where the public can donate school supplies.

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 Charter One’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 Charter One
Charter One is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. It has 337 branches and 504 ATMs. It has 102 branches and 105 ATMs in Michigan. Charter One’s website is charterone.com.

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.



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