PwC & buildOn: Partnering for Brighter Futures Across the U.S.

At buildOn, our students are no strangers to giving back and mentoring the next generation. By reading with young children at local libraries, providing homework help at nearby elementary schools, and offering their wisdom and friendship at youth centers and after school programs, our students are leading by example and showing their youngest neighbors that they care. It’s not as often, however, that the roles are reversed and buildOn students have the opportunity to partner with a coach of their own. But since 2016, PwC has been doing exactly that for buildOn students.

As a National Partner of buildOn, PwC has taken the lead in making sure buildOn students have the skills they need to succeed in life after high school. Through buildOn’s Partnership Program, PwC team members have coached buildOn students in Boston, Bridgeport, New York City, and Oakland on the subject of financial literacy. “Each PwC employee who served as a coach helped our buildOn students gain greater understanding of financial literacy, and they have empowered our students to see the endless possibilities for their future,” says Anthony Curtis, U.S. Immersion Director at buildOn. “I would like to personally thank all of our partners at PwC for coaching, sharing, and learning with our buildOn students across the country.”

Above: PwC employees have coached buildOn students in financial literacy since 2016 as part of buildOn’s Partnership Program.

In fact, the lessons learned as part of buildOn’s Partnership Program have been so valuable that many students started applying what they learned to their own lives right away. “I learned so much from my coaches,” says Perla Tejeda, a 12th grade student at the Community Academy of Science and Health in Boston. “It’s so important to be financially responsible. You do everything with money, so if you learn at a young age how to control and use your money, you will make better decisions in life.”

“My coaches made me see the reality of what it would take to become a doctor.”

For Perla, that meant spending less now and saving more for the future. Perla dreams of one day being a doctor, and she already has an internship at a hospital in Boston. Working with her coaches at PwC—Stephen Coyle, CJ Duella, and Brady Sheehan—Perla now has a clearer idea of how to make her dream come true from a financial perspective. “My coaches made me see the reality of what it would take to become a doctor,” Perla says. “Before, I was just wasting my money. Now, I’m breaking up my paychecks and saving.”

Above: Perla Tejeda poses for a photo with her PwC coaches (from right) Stephen Coyle, CJ Duella, and Brady Sheehan during the Partnership Program graduation.

But it’s not just buildOn students like Perla who are benefitting from the program—so are the coaches. “PwC’s purpose is to build trust and to solve important problems. buildOn’s Partnership Program gave us an opportunity to live our purpose by building relationships and trust with students and a community outside of our typical network and to help students address social needs in their own neighborhoods,” says Stephen Coyle, Deals Practice Partner at PwC and buildOn Boston Board Member. “We found this program to be invaluable to us—it reminded us of the importance of giving back and building relationships outside of the office, but also using our professional skills to make a difference in a very practical way.”

“What impressed us the most was the activism and outreach of the students—it was truly inspiring.”

As part of buildOn’s Partnership Program, buildOn students and coaches spend one of their six sessions serving together. In Boston, students showed their PwC coaches how they give back by helping with homework and leading games for the children at the Dorchester YMCA. “What impressed us the most was the activism and outreach of the students—it was truly inspiring,” Stephen says. “Each of these students give up so much time and effort out of their already busy daily schedule to make an impact in their community. We found it amazing that these students are willing to give up two or more afternoons after school each week to do community service and to improve themselves and the community around them.”

Above: In Boston, PwC coaches joined buildOn students to serve in solidarity at the Dorchester YMCA, where they tutored and led games for children.

Perla is familiar with what it takes to serve after school and on weekends, as she’s dedicated herself to more than 175 hours of service to better her Boston community through buildOn. All of those service hours have taught her about what it means to be compassionate and empathetic. When asked about the lessons she’s learned in buildOn’s Partnership Program, she stresses that it goes beyond financial literacy.

“To Stephen, Brady, CJ, and all of the coaches at PwC, I just want to say thank you.”

“My coaches made me realize that even though you may be a professional and work for a great company, you still need to be humble. They were really humble with me. After all, they visited our high school and learned about our community. They were always making jokes and creating a positive environment for us to have a great experience,” Perla explains. “To Stephen, Brady, CJ, and all of the coaches at PwC, I just want to say thank you. Really, thank you.”