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Berkshire Bank Foundation Awards Nearly $2 Million to Local Nonprofits

To Enhance Economic Opportunities & Improve Quality of Life

PITTSFIELD, MA, February 1, 2017 – Berkshire Bank Foundation is excited to announce that it has awarded a total of $1,862,265 in grants to nonprofit organizations operating in the Bank's footprint in 2016. The giving represents a 3% increase in contributions compared to 2015. The grants supported a variety of important education and community development initiatives, as well as health and human service and cultural programs.

"Our philanthropic investments impacted millions of individuals in 2016, helping to enhance economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for members of our community," said Lori Gazzillo, Vice President and Director of the Berkshire Bank Foundation. "We are so pleased to continue our support of so many community initiatives throughout our footprint."

In total, the Foundation's funding affected over five million individuals who received programming support from nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, especially reading, as well as community and economic development, including affordable housing, downtown revitalization and employment. In addition, the Foundation also helped meet the basic needs of individuals through funding to various health and human services initiatives.

Berkshire Bank Foundation recently announced changes to its philanthropic strategy, allowing it to continue meeting the growing needs of the communities they serve, while maximizing the impact of its contributions. As part of the transition, the Foundation will continue to focus its funding in the areas of education and community/economic development but will now seek specific outcomes associated with the programs it supports. In addition, the Foundation plans to allocate a limited pool of funds to basic need funding that will rotate each year to provide organizations doing good work, but that don't necessarily fall within their major focuses, the opportunity to receive funding. 

In addition to nonprofit financial support, Berkshire Bank provides a scholarship program for high school seniors, which recently launched its application for 2017. Recognizing that being a good corporate citizen is about more than writing a check, the XTEAM corporate volunteer program provides employees with paid time off to volunteer during regular business hours. In 2016, 100% of Berkshire's employees participated in the program. 

About Berkshire Bank Foundation

Through foundation grants to nonprofits, scholarships to students, environmental programs, and employee volunteerism, Berkshire Bank is making a difference. Each year the Foundation donates $2 million to nonprofits throughout the Bank's footprint and 100% of bank employees provide over 40,000 hours of service through their XTEAM® corporate volunteer program. Berkshire Bank was named one of Massachusetts' Most Charitable Companies by the Boston Business Journal in 2016. 

About Berkshire Bank

Berkshire Hills Bancorp (NYSE: BHLB) is the parent of Berkshire Bank, America's Most Exciting Bank®. The Company, recognized for its entrepreneurial approach and distinctive culture, has $9 billion in assets and 97 full service branch offices in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey and Pennsylvania providing personal and business banking, insurance, and wealth management services. To learn more visit or follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Berkshire Bank is the official bank of NESN's Boston Bruins coverage and the community partner of Boston Seasons at City Hall Plaza.

Contact: Heidi Higgins
     Berkshire Bank
     Phone: (413) 236-3756
     E-Mail: hhiggins@berkshirebank.com

     Vanessa Pesa
     Berkshire Bank
     Phone: 413-447-1851
     E-Mail: vpesa@berkshirebank.com


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