The funds will be distributed over two years to support new programs, and expand existing ones for low- and moderate-income families.
Welcoming a group of bank staff – along with Federation and agency staff and volunteers – at a joint news conference and check presentation on Sept. 26 at the Jewish Community Centers' Klein Branch, Beryl Simonson, Federation board chair, said to all: "We are all seeking to impact the community. This gift and the work of Citizens Bank and Federation has set the bar for future partnerships with nonprofits and area businesses."
"Citizens Bank came to Federation because we are so impressed with what Federation accomplishes," added Stephen D. Steinour, chairman and CEO of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania.
"This is not just about making a check presentation," he continued."It is about making a profound impact on the community. Citizens Bank likes to get involved, and we look for ways to do it in a meaningful way."
Before the presentation, Steinour said that the usual grant from the bank's foundation is about $5,000. He went on to outline the new initiative, saying that "this is beyond anything we've done before."
The individual programs will include the help of Citizens Bank volunteers. With some, they will do hands-on work along with other volunteers. Others will be mentors, and some will provide their expertise in helping agencies select grant recipients.
The volunteer component of the grant is something that has "never been done before at Federation," according to president Harold Goldman.
In addition, second-year challenge grants will be made to attract matching gifts and also involve the community.
The individual grants aim to help:
Boost Social Action and Service – The program will help synagogue and supplementary-school programs, as well as youth groups, take part in community-service programs, such as tutoring children and volunteering at nursing homes.
Develop Self-Sufficiency – Citizens Community Bridge Vocational Scholarships, made through the Jewish Employment and Vocational Service, will be given to 15 people or more to help teach them job skills.
Reduce Hunger – The Jewish Relief Agency will receive funding for the packaging and delivery of 3,750 food packages for low-income families.
Provide Emergency Assistance – Emergency assistance grants – which can be used to help pay for critical necessities such as rent, mortgage, utilities and medicine – will be provided by the Golden Slipper Club & Charities.
Increasing Financial Literacy – Elderly citizens, recent immigrants, or individuals with low to moderate income levels will receive financial literacy training, taught by bank volunteers at workshops throughout the community.
Providing Food to the Elderly – Through the JCCs' "Cook for a Friend" program, an increased number of meals will be delivered to needy men and women.
"Together, we have joined forces to give a significant hand-up, not a handout," announced Goldman as part of his appreciation statements to Steinour for the bank's "generosity, partnership and caring vision."
Reflecting on the approach of Rosh Hashanah and the presentation of the bank's check, Goldman said, "I accept it knowing it will benefit so many people for a sweeter year."
Immediately afterward, the volunteer component of the bank's new initiative did indeed make the year sweeter for recipients of the Klein Branch's "Cook for a Friend" program.
Some 30 bank employees worked together with 15 volunteers from the Klein, as well as Federation and agency leaders, to pack and deliver 500 food packages for seniors that included honey cakes and small bottles of kosher wine.