PIMCO: A Global Corporation, Making a Local Impact for Literacy

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VBWhile global investment management firm, PIMCO, has offices far and wide, spanning 12 different countries, its New York City and Newport Beach employees are committed to making a difference right in their own backyard. By tutoring first grade students online through TutorMate, a combined 32 PIMCO employees are making a local impact in the lives of students at P.S. 133 William A. Butler School in the New York City Public Schools District and at Madison Elementary School in the Santa Ana Unified School District. We had the wonderful opportunity to speak with two of our outstanding PIMCO volunteers, Vincent Birardi and Cassie Freeman, to find out about their experience as first-year TutorMate literacy tutors.

1) What do you appreciate about TutorMate?

Vincent Birardi: I appreciate how easy it is to participate each week. It’s as simple as a few clicks and I’m all set up! I also appreciate how thorough the TutorMate team has been in terms of coordinating all of the necessary logistics.

Cassie Freeman: I love to volunteer so this allows me to give back while still working with my busy schedule.

2) Why did you choose to sign up?

VB: As a father, I’ve seen how crucial reading is for not only for developing a child’s vocabulary but also their self-confidence. TutorMate is a great way to help children in the same ways!

CF: I love working with children (I originally majored in elementary education!) and it’s nice to know that we’re working with someone in the local community.

3) How has the experience been? (What is it like to be able to volunteer during the work day?)

VB: It’s always one of my weekly highlights. Only requires 30 minutes each week and it’s well worth the time spent.

CF: TutorMate has given me the flexibility to volunteer during the work day…from work! With a young child at home, the evenings and weekends can be hard, and leaving the office for several hours during the day can sometimes be impractical.

4) How is volunteering meaningful to you?

VB: I feel like I’ve been very fortunate in my life and so volunteering for me is a way to give back to others so hopefully they can also experience some good fortune. We all have a responsibility to look after each other so TutorMate is a prime example of how to help others.

CF: At times, it may feel challenging to step away from the desk but as soon as I start my session I’m reminded of how much I enjoy the experience and how worthwhile it is for not only my student, but for me.

5) What type of a connection have you made with your student? Do you feel like you’re making an impact?

VB: Yes, I feel like I have. His reading has definitely improved and he always seems excited when we spend time together so I feel like it’s helping!

CF: I’ve seen the reading level of my student improve over the weeks as well as her confidence in her abilities and I’m amazed every time I listen to her sound out the words while she reads a story aloud. Overall, I think the TutorMate program is an excellent way to reinforce what the students are learning in the classroom and I’ve encouraged several of my co-workers to get involved when the program starts up again.

Cassie and Vincent are full-time working professionals, each with a young child at home, and it’s certainly amazing that they still manage to find time to give back! Their commitment to tutor for 30 minutes every week can change a child’s life, and we are incredibly grateful for their volunteer work. With our national base reaching over 3,100 volunteers in 18 cities this year, we are able serve over 3,100 at-risk primary grade students, substantially increasing their reading abilities. In honor of National Volunteer Week, the Innovations for Learning and TutorMate team would like to sincerely thank all of our wonderful volunteer tutors who make our literacy progress possible!

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