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A Conversation About Literacy with Pitney Bowes: All Kids Should Have Access to Books and a Positive Reading Culture

Categories: Activities, Authors for Access, Curriculum & Access, Early Literacy, Education & Teaching, General, Student Centric Learning, The Digital Age, Volunteerism

In a recent End Book Deserts podcast, Dr. Molly Ness, V.P. of Academic Content for Learning Ally, spoke with Kathleen Ryan Mufson, V.P. of Global Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy and President of the Pitney Bowes Foundation, to learn about her corporation’s commitment to education and literacy. 

Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Pitney Bowes is a century-old American icon. The company enjoys a rich legacy of innovation as the inventor of the first postage meter, and is today a global shipping and mailing company that provides technology, logistics and financial services.            

There is another extraordinary aspect of Pitney Bowes you may not be familiar with − the company’s abiding interest in literacy for all children. Throughout its history, Pitney Bowes has supported efforts to help transform the lives of tens of thousands of children by helping them to achieve academic success and healthier lives. These efforts pave the way to prosperous futures. 

Through its many partnerships and alliances, leadership and funding, and large contingent of employees volunteering as reading mentors, the mighty Pitney Bowes has fostered a positive reading culture in homes and schools across America by distributing free books to children in need. 

A Focus on Early Literacy undefined

“Reading is the foundation to all learning,” says Ryan Mufson. “This is why we place a special emphasis on early literacy and work diligently with our partners to open opportunities for all children to become lifelong readers.” 

The Pitney Bowes Foundation’s efforts have carved many pathways to literacy success by partnering with other national literacy leaders, such as Reading is Fundamental (RIF) via their Share the Message to Read program; Read to a Child, a national mentoring and literacy nonprofit founded on the belief that every child deserves to be read to regularly by a caring adult; and United Way’s Reading Buddies program, where employees provide written words of encouragement and stuff teddy bears that will become a young child’s reading buddy. Ryan Mufson also credits Pitney Bowes employees who visit classrooms and museums regularly to read aloud and do craft activities with children. They help them select their very own book from a wide array of choices offered by RIF, a welcoming touchstone of their commitment to literacy. 

“When a child can write their name in their first book and take it home, it is a magical experience,” comments Dr. Ness. As an early educator, she recalls Pitney Bowes coming to her school, and the transformative nature she saw when children got to select a book of their own to take home from the table. “It was inspiring!” 

Literacy and Volunteering - A Smart Investment

“Investing in literacy – whether with time or money - is a smart investment,” says Ryan Mufson. “Our employees thoroughly enjoy the volunteer activities we do as a literacy-focused company. I personally mentor a first grader who I hope will be a successful reader and future leader someday.” She describes a chance meeting with a young woman who recalled her own childhood memory with a Pitney Bowes reading mentor. “She changed my life,” she told Ryan Mufson. 

Distributing books to children in need not only impacts the receiver, but also the volunteer. “These activities create purpose for us,” shares Ryan Mufson. “Volunteering can bring calm to daily life. It can expand one’s view of community or different cultures. Our volunteers feel uplifted as they describe their experiences reading with a child. They are humbled. Literacy is so vital to our society and everything we do.  The simple act of reading to a child is powerful and enriching; it changes all of us for the better. I encourage everyone to do it.”

In the interview, Dr. Ness asked a final question…”What is one book that had a profound impact on you? Ryan Mufson’s response was Moby-Dick.  “I grew up in New York City and the story took me on a journey through the watery parts of the world as Melville would describe it. It was filled with poetry, humor and horror and gave me a glimpse into the power of great writing. Growing up, I would start most summers by reading passages from Moby-Dick, and as with all great books, I would learn something new with each reading.”

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