Citizens Bank,The Citizens Bank Foundation announced today a $15,000 grant to Vermont s Community Action Agencies as part of its Energy$ense program.The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity Inc., (CVOEO) will serve as the conduit to distribute the funds among the four other Community Action Agencies, which include BROC-Community Action in southwestern Vermont, Central Vermont Community Action Council, Inc, North East Kingdom Community Action, Inc and Southeastern Vermont Community Action, Inc. CVOEO is a nonprofit agency whose mission is to address fundamental issues of economic, social and racial justice and to work with low-income people to achieve economic independence.The grant is part of Citizens Energy$ense program, a multi-faceted initiative to help homeless shelters, local nonprofits and consumers address heat, utility and other energy costs. The $15,000 grant from Citizens Bank Foundation will help with programs such as weatherization to reduce energy costs, at a time when our Community Action Agencies resources are stretched thin and demands for services are rising. While everyone s feeling the sting of high energy prices in a struggling economy, nonprofits, which run on exceedingly tight budgets, have really struggled this winter, said Cathleen Schmidt, Citizens Bank President for Vermont. By assisting worthy organizations such as our Community Action Agencies, we enable these groups to focus on their core programs such as weatherization to help low-income households coping with fuel costs. We re extremely grateful for the encouragement and financial support of the Citizens Bank Foundation, said CVOEO Executive Director Tim Searles. Our services are required more than ever now and every dollar helps. This generous contribution goes a long way toward helping us accomplish our mission.The Energy$ense program also includes two below-market interest-rate, unsecured loans for qualified borrowers to make energy-efficient upgrades or improvements to their homes. Customers who take advantage of the discount borrowing opportunity by March 31, 2009, will have the option to defer their first payment for 90 days. The two loans offered as part of the Energy$ense program are:The Citizens Bank Energy Efficiency Loan designed to help income-eligible borrowers and/or those who live in targeted geographies, finance weatherization projects to help make their homes more energy-efficient. The $1,000, 3% APR fixed-rate loan has a three-year term with a low monthly payment of $29.08 per month. There are no fees or closing costs associated with the loan. Under the same guidelines and for larger home-improvement projects, Citizens Bank also is offering a 5% APR on loans up to $10,000 at terms payable up to seven years.The EZ Home Improvement Loan a $1,000, 3% APR fixed-rate loan, is available to income-eligible borrowers, and/or those living in targeted geographies, who want to update their homes. Citizens is offering a 6% APR on loans for larger home-improvement projects, up to $10,000, payable up to seven years.To apply for an EZ Home Improvement Loan or Citizens Bank Energy Efficiency Loan, homeowners should visit a Citizens Bank branch or call 1-877-TOP-RATE. To be eligible, borrowers must live in a low or moderate-income neighborhood, or have income that is less than 80% of the median income.Through Energy$ense, Citizens is providing consumers information about ways they can stay warm and safe during the winter. Helpful tips include choosing electric heaters and extension cords that are UL rated, insulating pipes and water heaters, and installing carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms.About the Citizens Bank FoundationCitizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs. CFG s Web site is citizensbank.com.