Hunger is the world’s #1 health risk, with 1 in 7 people going hungry worldwide. Hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Close to 900 million people do not have enough to eat and 98 percent of them live in developing countries. Even in developed countries like the United States, 15 percent of households are food insecure, meaning its members have uncertain access to adequate and safe food.
While hunger is considered the key global challenge of our time, it is also believed to be the world’s greatest solvable problem. Apart from the immediate suffering it causes to the millions without enough food, hunger is also holding back progress on such social issues as health and education. Yet, no scientific breakthroughs are needed to solve hunger. The knowledge, tools, and resources that we have in the world today, combined with good will, can solve this problem.
What if your biggest challenge in learning math was that you could not understand the words that the teacher used to convey math concepts? That the language in the math book was not your first language? Or that your learning disability involved difficulties with words and reading?
Dr. Matthew Peterson, co-founder and COO of MIND Research Institute, knows what that’s like. He is dyslexic. But after completing an undergraduate triple major and a Ph.D. in visual neuroscience, he decided to try to figure out a way to teach math that minimizes the use of words, but maximizes student understanding and achievement.
Dr. Peterson’s stunning innovation is called ST Math, a web-based, self-paced software program that uses language-free animation to help students grasp key math concepts. This resource is offered to students in addition to regular classroom instruction, twice a week.
It turns out that all students, regardless of language or culture of origin, gender, and in some cases even learning disability, do far better at math when they have additional help from solving the ST Math exercises.
As we outlined in an earlier blog post, Cisco’s initial expansion support for ST Math in Silicon Valley and in Arizona has shown strong student performance gains of double to triple growth in math proficiency. Our newly supported 22-school Virginia ST Math pilot sought to replicate these successful outcomes.
In America today there is a huge untapped resource that could dramatically improve the productivity of companies across the nation. Renewable energy? Tax breaks? No… It’s the 1 million military veterans returning to the job market. One million individuals who understand teamwork and leadership, have a proven ability to learn quickly, a strong work ethic, dedication, and the ability to work under pressure.
Time magazine called this wave of returning veterans “The Next Greatest Generation.” If we can tap into this resource we can do much to fill the skills gap that our country faces and make progress toward a faster-growing economy. However, many companies have been slow to see this wave. Unemployment for veterans between the ages of 18 and 24 hovers at a shockingly high 22 percent.
Data isn’t sexy. It doesn’t have the emotional appeal of water flowing from a hand pump for the first time into a child’s waiting hands. Nor does it have the “going viral” potential of Matt Damon refusing to use the toilet for a year.
But data is a valuable commodity for the organizations working to deliver clean water and sanitation to people who lack those basic resources. Having the right data can drive smarter decision-making and make water and sanitation projects more efficient, more effective, and more appealing to funders.
But in parts of the world where clean water is the scarcest, data is often the hardest to gather. Internet connections can be limited or nonexistent in remote parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This makes it difficult to gather data that can be analyzed and shared in a timely way. By the time you’ve gone home, entered your notes into a spreadsheet, compared it to other reports, and shared your findings with colleagues, the situation in the Malawian village you visited might have changed significantly.
This week TriplePundit featured Cisco Corporate Affairs Senior Director Kathy Mulvany in its series on leading female CSR practitioners. Read the complete interview below. Thanks to TriplePundit for permission to republish this interview.
TriplePundit: Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the business.
Kathy Mulvany: As senior director of corporate affairs, I’m responsible for helping to steward Cisco’s overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy, build awareness of our CSR programs around the world, and engage with a broad set of stakeholders including customers, shareholders, governments, nonprofit partners and advocacy groups. Within Corporate Affairs, I oversee a number of teams, including CSR strategy and planning, marketing and communications, the Cisco Foundation and corporate grant making, CSR reporting and stakeholder engagement, as well as our veterans program.
I’ve been a part of Cisco’s Corporate Affairs organization for seven years and with Cisco since 1996. One benefit of working for a large corporation is that I’ve had the opportunity to move around within the business, which keeps it fresh while broadening my expertise and professional network. Having worked in various Cisco organizations over the years, including Corporate Marketing, Latin America Marketing and Office of the Chairman and CEO, I can honestly say I’ve found my passion in Corporate Affairs with CSR.
3p: How has the sustainability program evolved at your company?