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JCPenney supports youth programs one penny at a time

PLANO, Texas — JCPenney announced that it is launching a new philanthropic initiative that invites customers in over 1,100 stores to turn small change into “pennies from heaven” by rounding up their purchases and donating the difference to afterschool programs. Serving as the company’s signature cause-related event, pennies from heaven will be held four times a year starting July 31 through Aug. 27 during the Back-to-School season.

“Compelling national research reveals that one in four students in America is unsupervised between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. This represents more than 15 million kids who could benefit from the academic and social development opportunities that afterschool programs provide,” said Mike Theilmann, group EVP for JCPenney and chairman of jcpenney afterschool. “With communities facing severe cuts in education and school resources, there’s never been a more important time to raise awareness of the afterschool issue and get our customers involved in helping to narrow the education gap.”

 JCPenney said it would promote the initiative with national and Hispanic advertising, which utilizes broadcast, print and online media, showcases youth in afterschool programs through themed ads representing “pennies for art,” “pennies for science” and “pennies for music” -- demonstrating the power of a penny to create new opportunities for learning.

The company also announced that Olsenboye designers Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen are lending their support to the initiative by releasing a limited edition change purse available exclusively at jcpenney. Each purse will sell for $9.99 and 100% of the sale proceeds will be donated to the pennies from heaven campaign. “Every child should have the opportunity to be part of a positive and nurturing environment after school,” said Ashley Olsen. “Through the purchase of an Olsenboye change purse, customers can help support afterschool programs and impact a child’s life,” added Mary-Kate Olsen.

JCPenney's pennies from heaven campaign also includes a social media element. Prior to the official launch in stores, customers will be able to collect virtual pennies as part of a fun, interactive experience on jcp.com/pennies. This new microsite serves as a personalized social hub for supporters to learn more about the issue and get involved through various online activities that trigger a donation to afterschool programs. Once users collectively generate 100 million virtual pennies, jcpenney will donate $1 million to the afterschool cause.