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How I Helped Middle School Students Make a Difference in Their Community

stliemThis post was written by guest blogger Stephen Liem, IT Director, Global Quality and Support Services

There is no limit to what education can bring. It opens up many opportunities that otherwise may not be available.

In the past 10 weeks I‘ve had the privilege of teaching journalism to the middle school students in Joseph-George School in East Jan Jose, California. Cisco has been partnering with Citizen Schools, a nonprofit organization, to deliver after school educational programs to low-income schools across the country.

Citizen Schools aims to prevent students from dropping out of high school through its Extended Learning Time (ELT) model, which provides after-school mentoring and support to low-performing middle schools. Volunteer professionals, or “Citizen Teachers,” teach 10-week after-school apprenticeships on topics they are passionate about, from blogging to filmmaking to robotics.

On average the schools Citizen Teachers visit do 300 hours less of after school programming compared to their counterparts. In East San Jose, where the graduation rate is at 79%, providing more meaningful educational programs has certainly helped not just the students themselves but also the community.

As a "Citizen Teacher" with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, Stephen Liem helped sixth graders create their own newspaper

As a “Citizen Teacher” with the nonprofit Citizen Schools, Stephen Liem helped sixth graders create their own newspaper

In my journalism class, students in the sixth grade learned how to interview and collect data, how to write an article well, and how to express and publish their opinions honestly and truthfully. Collectively they decided on the name of the newspaper – the East San Jose News — and the subject of their stories.

The results were both eye opening and touching at the same time.

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Blending Learning Pilots Take Off with Citizen Schools and MIND Research Institute

This blog was originally published on the Citizen Schools inspirED blog and reposted with permission from Citizen Schools.

Meeting every student’s academic needs in the classroom can be challenging but is essential to their success. Many of the public middle schools Citizen Schools partners with are reaching students who are academically all over the map, with many falling below grade level.

In order to provide customized support to the highest-need students, we began “blended learning” pilots this year focused on core math instruction. Blended learning, which pairs computer-aided instruction with face-to-face classroom methods, enables Citizen Schools’ staff in four pilot programs across the country to offer more personalized and more efficient academic support during the expanded learning day.

st-math-photo-3-300x300Partnered with Cisco Foundation and MIND Research Institute, the blending learning math program utilizes Spatial-Temporal (ST) Math instructional software to focus on improving students’ math skills, with the aim of increasing student proficiency for long-term success.

Launched this September, over 350 students are utilizing the ST Math instructional software at four schools across the country. And after 3 months of implementing the pilots, the initial feedback and support from our school partners is positive.

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Millions of Girls Face Barriers to Getting an Education. How Can We Help?

Right now, 66 millions of girls around the world dream of going to school.

Educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation, yet millions of girls aren’t in school. Educated girls stand up for their rights, marry and have children later, educate their own children, and their families and communities thrive.

Yet millions of girls around the world face barriers to education that boys do not. Removing barriers such as early marriage, gender-based violence, domestic slavery and sex trafficking means not only a better life for girls, but a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all.

Lack of access to education for girls is a real issue, but I must admit I often don’t think of it. Yes, in my daily work with the Cisco Networking Academy I am constantly reminded of the lack of females studying IT, and am involved in projects to help increase these numbers worldwide. But I often forget about the issue one step back. What about the girls who don’t have the luxury of choosing what to study? Those girls who just want to go to school, but can’t?

A few months ago I was reading our Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility newsletter when I saw a post about this very issue. Cisco offices around the globe were showing a documentary called Girl Rising. I was curious and asked for a copy. A few weeks later with a group of co-workers in our Barcelona office we were moved by the story of 9 girls from around the world portrayed in the video.

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Veterans Corporate Technology Day Connects Veterans to Meaningful Careers

After returning to the United States, the transition from battlefield to civilian workplace can be difficult for veterans. Many have a hard time translating their leadership skills and military experience to something that will resonate with hiring managers.

One of Cisco’s priorities is to make that transition easier. By the end of FY2015, we plan to connect 7,000 U.S. military veterans to ICT training, credentials, and job opportunities through different programs and initiatives.


On 4 Cisco campuses, veterans learned about Cisco's efforts to find meaningful in the technology field

On 4 Cisco campuses, veterans learned about Cisco’s efforts to help them find meaningful careers after returning from active duty

Cisco employees also get involved in our efforts to support military veterans – one of those ways is by organizing annual Veterans Corporate Technology Day (VCTD) at several Cisco campuses. This year, more than 194 veterans attended VCTD at Cisco campuses in California, North Carolina, Colorado, and Texas on November 20, where they learned more about careers and opportunities in the technology field.

The event connected veterans with over 25 Cisco volunteers, who shared personal transition stories and highlighted Cisco’s veterans program.  Veterans left knowing that tools like Cisco Networking Academy courses and the Future’s U.S. Military Pipeline can bring them closer to building their IT skills and finding careers after serving their country.

Cisco volunteers showed off exciting projects to veterans, inspiring them to put the skills they learned in the military to use in the civilian workplace

Cisco volunteers showed off exciting projects to veterans, inspiring them to put the skills they learned in the military to use in the civilian workplace

Cisco also received the “Statement of Support” award from the United States Secretary of Defense in recognition of our veteran hiring efforts.

Find out how Cisco is helping put U.S. veterans to work by reading about Warren and David Neal on our CSR website.

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Cisco Volunteers in Massachusetts Join Global Campaign to Give Back

At the Cisco Boxborough, Massachusetts office, we are taking part in Giving Tuesday by encouraging our colleagues to participate in the 2014 Global Hunger Relief Campaign, which helps 13 local nonprofit hunger relief organizations. This is part of Cisco’s larger global campaign, which helps more than 160 food organizations worldwide. The goal of the campaign is to raise $1.8 million to end hunger around the world, and so far we are more than halfway toward that goal.

To date, we’ve raised over US$24,000 so far in employee donations, and we continue to make significant headway toward our 2014 goal of $43,000. We owe a big thanks to Director of Engineering, David Abe, who leads the New England Development Center and is an executive champion for this year’s Campaign.

In addition to David Abe’s leadership, my fellow Civic Council members, and a vibrant culture of giving back, our local Campaign launched with a beautiful artistic wall created by Lynne Abell.

Boxborough, Mass. Cisco Civic Council member Lynne Abell designed this artistic wall to commemorate the 2014 Global Hunger Relief Campaign

Boxborough, Massachusetts Cisco Civic Council member Lynne Abell designed this artistic wall to commemorate the 2014 Global Hunger Relief Campaign

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