ABOVE PHOTO: Citizens Bank executives pack backpacks with school supplies at Wednesday’s Gear for Grades kickoff announcement in West Conshohocken. The Citizens Bank Foundation has donated $35,000 to Cradles to Crayons in support of meeting its goal of filling 15,000 backpacks for local children in need.
Citizens Bank announced today that it will launch its Gear for Grades initiative on July 18, 2011. 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 6. This year’s Gear for Grades program is being conducted in partnership with Cradles to Crayons and Power 99.
At a news conference last week, Citizens Bank President and CEO Daniel K. Fitzpatrick announced that in addition to collecting school supplies in its branches, the Citizens Bank Foundation is making a $35,000 grant to Cradles to Crayons to support its goal of filling 15,000 backpacks for local children in need.
“Many of us are fortunate enough to remember the excitement that came with going back to school – the chance to buy new school clothes, supplies, backpacks and lunch boxes,” 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 by giving school children the gear they need to succeed this year.”
According to a National Retail Federation survey in 2010, the average American family is expected to spend $606 on back-to-school expenses. But for families who are low-income, at-risk or homeless, the cost of even basic school supplies can be a burden.
This is the seventh year Citizens Bank has conducted its Gear for Grades program, 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 any Citizens Bank branch in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware between July 18 and August 6.
“Citizens Bank’s Gear for Grades initiative will go a long way toward getting the school year off to a great start, certainly for our children, but also for the schools they attend and the neighborhoods where they live,” said Michal Smith, Executive Director, Cradles to Crayons. “We are thrilled to receive a $35,000 grant from the Citizens Bank Foundation because it will help us to reach our goal of distributing 15,000 backpacks this year – a 33 percent increase over 2010.”
The $35,000 grant from the Citizens Bank Foundation also helps Cradles to Crayons to 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.
Power 99 will promote the donation of school supplies through its robust social media platforms. It will also collect school supplies during a live broadcast on Saturday, August 6 at a location still to be determined.
Once the school supplies are collected, Citizens Bank and Cradles to Crayons will hold a “Backpack-a-thon” on Aug. 25 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 2011-2012 school year.