Photographs by William Taufic.
Committed to literacy and learning, Pitney Bowes, Inc. makes between sixty and eighty grants every year to underserved school systems, funds that help thousands of kids—from younger students struggling with reading to older teens aspiring to careers in science. The company’s financial dedication is serious: $2.14 million donated to Stamford charities alone since 2005. But what’s equally impressive is the way the company encourages volunteerism among its employees.
The employees have flexible schedules that allow them to fit mentoring and tutoring into their work days. For instance, through the Learning is for Everyone (LIFE) program, in conjunction with the Stamford Public Education Foundation, students from Stamford’s South End and other districts come to the corporate office once a week, toward the end of the day, for tutoring. “People here are passionate about their volunteer work and they bring that back to the company,” says Kathleen Ryan Mufson, director of corporate citizenship and philanthropy for Pitney Bowes, Inc. “They have a real commitment and connection after mentoring one student for a few years.”
Another volunteer effort is Power Lunch, a recurring LIFE program where employees take a bus to local schools to eat lunch with individual students and read to them. Additional programs include a science-focused initiative called Find Inspiration Research, Science & Technology (FIRST), which incorporates the annual Lego League competition; a partnership with the Women’s National Basketball Association to promote reading; and backing for the new Kids Space at the Connecticut Science Center.
“The LIFE program has been running quietly for seventeen years and it has a profound effect on the students, says Susan Rigano, executive director of the Stamford Public Education Foundation. “As a former volunteer, I can tell you that the sense of excitement these kids have is huge. There’s a giant hallway at Pitney Bowes and when the kids arrive, their voices really echo. They come running in and you can just hear their enthusiasm. For me, that was always one of the best moments of the day.”