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Multiplying the Impact of Food and Housing Relief

When you have a regular paycheck, a roof over your head, your health, and a fully stocked refrigerator, it’s easy to focus on other activities of daily living.

But when you lack one or all of these things, your focus is on surviving.

I know all this from first-hand experience. As a child, I helped my mom, who doesn’t speak English, apply for public assistance in times of great family need. I had to research and complete, on behalf of my parents, food, health, and unemployment forms and job applications, translating them from English to Spanish and vice versa. We used buses to go from one agency to the next, and sometimes going back and forth to the same organization. There was no one to point us the right way or direct us around pitfalls, as we worked toward stabilizing our day-to-day lives, and eventual self-sufficiency and economic independence.

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Trading Up to Lower Carbon in Bangalore

March 25, 2014 at 8:00 am PST

Electric trading markets that allow consumers to procure blocks of energy directly from generation providers have existed for a long time, but have tended to be in areas with highly stable distribution systems with access limited to large consumers.  Customer segmentation within electricity markets has therefore been limited, with utilities defining tariffs and establishing service reliability based on customer type: residential, commercial, or industrial.  However, technology platform enhancements have enabled smaller consumers to participate in electric trading markets and enabled system operators with a less stable grid to provide this service.

The result is that consumers, and not just the utility companies, can define the characteristics and pricing for their electric service. 

For Cisco, this change is allowing us to purchase electricity in one of our most important, but least reliable and highest-carbon locations — Bangalore, India — in a new way that reflects our requirements for availability and environmental impact.

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How Can We Encourage Students Of All Backgrounds To Go Into STEM?

March 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm PST

Today in the Huffington Post, Blair Christie, Cisco Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and Eric Schwarz, cofounder and CEO of Citizen Schools wrote about our organizations’ collective commitment to increase the number of students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects and careers.

Last week in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, network engineers helped 50 student robotics teams compete in Aerial Assist, a game in which students program and operate robots to toss as many balls into a goal as possible — in just 150 seconds. Similarly, in San Jose, a group of women engineers at Cisco hosted 70 middle-school girls earlier this year as part of “National Engineering Week” to give them a glimpse into how cutting-edge technologies are developed in R&D labs.

These engagements, part of the US 2020 initiative announced at the White House Science Fair last year, reflect the urgent need to do more to encourage students to go into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.

Three things are true in STEM: There are a lot of job openings. These jobs pay well. And there are not enough qualified people to fill these jobs. Today, the technology industry employs 6 million people. By 2018, the U.S. will face a projected shortfall of 230,000 qualified advanced-degree STEM workers. Meanwhile, the Bureau for Labor Statistics predicts that STEM jobs will grow 55 percent faster than non-STEM jobs over the next 10 years. The flow of talent into the STEM pipeline is limited. Without a dramatic change, the pressure will weaken further, and the flow of talent will slow to a trickle.

Read the complete blog on the Huffington Post.

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DoGooder Video Award Winners Inspire Change

March 13, 2014 at 10:26 am PST

Congratulations to the winners of the DoGooder Video Awards, who were announced today at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C.!

The DoGooder Awards recognize the creative and effective use of video to promote social good. Cisco sponsored the awards for the third year in a row, providing a cash prize to the winner in the “Best Nonprofit Video” category. Watch all four winning videos below.

Best Nonprofit Video
“Right By You” from Partners for Mental Health. This 30-second video shows why we need to do more to end tragedies like youth suicide.

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Cisco Employee Volunteers Help Families Become Homeowners

March 11, 2014 at 11:30 am PST

Katherine_TochThis post was written by guest blogger Katherine Toch, Senior Marketing Manager, Cisco Corporate Affairs

A home, at first thought…seems like a pretty simple concept.  Four walls, some windows, a couple doors and you have a house. But it is more than that, it is a place to put down your roots and become part of a larger community.  It’s a safe and secure place to call your own. It’s a place to make memories and recall them through lively dinner conversations throughout the years. It’s a feeling of knowing you can keep the ones you love safe. Something so many of us take for granted. Whether here in the U.S or around the world, more people than not do not have a place to call home.

The statistics on housing are staggering: Globally 1.6 billion people live in substandard housing conditions. In addition, 1 in 4 people live in conditions that harm their health, safety, prosperity and opportunities. The current U.S. homeless population is estimated to be between 1.6 to 3 million people, and one-third of the homeless are children.

In my own backyard, the San Francisco Bay Area, fewer than 40 percent of families can afford to purchase a home. For hard-working families whose earnings place them in the low to very-low income classification, finding a decent, affordable place to live in the San Francisco Bay Area is an extremely difficult, if not impossible task. The current need for additional housing is unmet, and every day the number of families living in substandard housing continues to rise. As more families seek opportunities in the Bay Area and the population grows, the lack of affordable housing is becoming more pronounced and distressing. Families need and deserve a home.

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