In recognition of National Volunteer Week, ITWorks is spotlighting one of our amazing volunteers each day this week. Our volunteers are such an asset to our program and make a huge impact on our students. ITWorks would not be the same without them!
Bob Juliano (standing to the far left in the featured photo) , the Director of Corporate Giving & Financial Literacy at Beneficial Bank, has been part of the ITWorks family in Philadelphia for many years. He coordinates two Friday Sessions at the bank during each class, and advocated for the bank’s funding of the ITWorks program. Bob has involved many of his colleagues with the program as well, and they all agree – volunteering with ITWorks is a very special experience.
How did you first learn about the ITWorks program? What compelled you to get involved as a volunteer?
One of our branch managers in Springfield, Lisa, met representatives from ITWorks at an event. That laid the foundation for a relationship, and she eventually put the team in contact with me so that I could have an opportunity to learn about the program as well. We all got together to talk about how Beneficial might be able to support the mission of Tech Impact’s ITWorks and ways that we could partner, and we immediately thought that teaching a Financial Literacy course as part of the Friday Session curriculum would work really well. Beyond that, we came to realize that the mission of the program aligned with The Beneficial Foundation’s goals, so we have been able to fund the Philadelphia program as well.
Beneficial hosts a couple different sessions – can you tell me a little bit more about them?
Well we host the Financial Literacy session as I mentioned. This covers the basic topics - money management, credit, investments. We have a variety of guest speakers and representatives from the bank come in for this session so that the students can really get a grasp for the topics; which they probably haven’t learned about before. We also run a fun trivia game in the afternoon that asks the students about real-life expenses to get them thinking about what things cost. In addition, the class comes back for a second session that covers higher education costs, IT Careers within the Banking Industry, philanthropy, and team building. The day starts with a presenter talking about paying for college, followed by a Beneficial Bank IT representative speaking about information technology related careers and trends within the banking industry, and then there’s a general presentation about philanthropic efforts and a fun community service project! Last year, we made over 200 sandwiches for St. John’s Hospice. It gives the students an idea of what it means to support their community, and help cultivate that desire to give back. We end the day with a Team Building activity. Students have to build a helicopter made from legos before the metaphorical monsoon arrives. We observe the students through this activity to see how they work together towards a common goal. And you know what? The students in ITWorks always, always, always work as a team – everyone is able to take on a leadership role and follow directions and support each other. It’s heartwarming to watch.
Describe one experience with a student(s) that stands out as being particularly impactful for the student(s), yourself, or both. Do you have a favorite part of your engagement with the students?
I think both sessions that we’ve hosted have been impactful in all the classes! As we talk about things like credit and money management, you can see the light bulbs over students’ heads illumine. Financial literacy is one of those topics that isn’t covered in school, so people often have to learn by making mistakes. We don’t want that to happen, so by introducing these topics to them – they are one step ahead of the game. That being said, the charity piece is my all-time favorite piece of our sessions with ITWorks. It’s such a great conversation because everyone gets to talk about things that they are passionate about; and it’s something that will go on through their careers and their lives. It’s really rewarding when they get these concepts; when they truly understand the importance of mastering their finances and volunteerism.
What do you think the benefit is for volunteers who get involved with ITWorks?
I just think it’s a great opportunity to meet students from Tech Impact and the ITWorks program, and to help them. To be part of their journey to employment is an amazing experience, and it’s just an amazing program! Being involved, at least at Beneficial, is helping to fulfill our mission because we want to educate the public to make smart financial choices – and that’s what we get to do! And even more than that, I learn a lot from each class that I work with.
Do you have any insight for organizations or individuals who are considering a volunteer opportunity with ITWorks?
Do it! You won’t be disappointed; especially for education and IT companies who can really add value to the students’ efforts. Every time we host a class, someone always asks about IT careers at the bank and what the latest trends are, so it can even be an opportunity to scope potential talent for your teams! Once you volunteer with ITWorks for the first time – whether it’s IT or life related – you’re going to want to come back each and every time. These students are special, and you’re going to want to teach them everything you know to help them be successful. You can see the passion in their eyes, in the way the speak, and in how they carry themselves – they want to get ahead and they want to be successful. The impact of volunteering with these students is so profound, so there’s really no reason not to. You’ll be part of the Tech Impact family for life.
Our volunteers are such an asset to our programs and make a huge impact on our students. Tech Impact would not be the same without them!
Learn More About Becoming an IT Works Volunteer
Founded in 1853, Beneficial Bank is the oldest and largest bank headquartered in Philadelphia. With 63 offices in the greater Philadelphia and South Jersey regions and approximately $5.7 billion in assets, Beneficial is a full service financial institution whose product offering includes commercial, consumer and real estate lending, equipment finance, insurance and wealth management services. Beneficial has been committed to providing financial education to individuals and businesses in the Delaware Valley for more than 160 years. Visit www.thebeneficial.com for more information.