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3,000 Minds to Inspire

This story was originally posted on Cisco Employee Connection, Cisco’s internal employee news site.

We are about to show more than 3,000 girls and young women around the world that they can be the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists—the dreamers and doers who will invent the future.

In April and May, in more than 80 Cisco offices in more than 50 countries, female students from local schools, Cisco Networking Academy classes, and non-profit organizations will spend a day with us, learning about technology.

It’s all part of this year’s Girls Power Tech event, when we open our doors to girls ages 13 to 18 for a day of site tours, presentations and mentoring. The girls will learn about the Internet of Everything and talk with us about careers in technology. They will imagine themselves in technical jobs—and experience the kind of technology they can help invent.

The activities are in celebration of International Girls in ICT Day, held on April 23. We are a top corporate supporter of this global effort to empower and encourage girls and young women to pursue careers in information and communications (ICT) technology.

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Cisco Employee Changes Lives Through Technology Donations

In 2013, Roland Holloway learned he was cancer-free. For 9 years, Roland, a Cisco employee, had battled neck cancer, but a surprising recovery inspired him to give back to his community. With the help of Cisco’s Employee Purchase Donation Program (EPDP), Roland is empowering a local nonprofit with new technologies and helping others in need.

Roland, who will celebrate his 20th anniversary at Cisco later this year, is taking advantage of his newfound health to create change in his own neighborhood. “I’ve had a lot of good fortune come my way,” he said. “I enjoy giving back; I can’t change world politics, but I can definitely help my local community.”

After recovering from neck cancer, Roland enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren

After recovering from neck cancer, Roland enjoys spending time with his family and grandchildren

He started by visiting his childhood friend, Johnny Taylor, who founded a veterans’ outreach nonprofit called Promised Land Foundation. Doctors diagnosed Taylor with polio as a child, forcing him to use an electric scooter for transportation and making his goal of serving other veterans difficult. Roland saw his friend struggling, and helped Taylor purchase a wheelchair-accessible van in 2013. “I wanted to help him fulfill his aspirations to help veterans,” Roland said. “I saw him struggling to get around, and he’s using the van to make veterans’ lives easier.”

However, Roland didn’t stop giving back. In 2014, he learned about Cisco’s EPDP through a colleague who had used the program to donate equipment to his daughter’s school. Roland realized that as a Cisco employee, he could purchase equipment at a 75% discount for donation to qualified nonprofits and schools in the United States.

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Technology Training Helps a University Reduce Poverty and Increase Opportunity in Nigeria

renaldo_rheederThis blog was guest written by Renaldo Rheeder, director of professional and vocational development at the American University of Nigeria

Nigeria has the highest number of children out of school, according to A World at School. Of the 57 million youngsters worldwide who are not receiving a formal education, more than 10 million live in Nigeria. The majority of non-attendees are girls, mainly in the majority-Muslim north. Of those fortunate enough to enroll, less than two-thirds complete primary school and even fewer girls finish secondary school.

Despite these challenges, approximately 150 girls have successfully completed Cisco Networking Academy courses at the American University of Nigeria (AUN). According to their instructors, the girls’ performance in the courses was on par with the male students – ample proof supporting our already firm belief that networking is not a gender-specific field.

AUN was established in 2004 with the mission of becoming Africa’s premier development university. In teaching, research, and community service, AUN addresses our community and region’s most pressing challenges: poverty, economic barriers to growth, lack of education, gender discrimination, lack of opportunities for disabled youth, environmental degradation, violence, and problematic governance. We are an agent of peace and development through myriad programs.

Students in the Cisco CCNA Routing &  Switching course work in  the practical lab at American University of Nigeria.

Students in the Cisco CCNA Routing & Switching course work in the practical lab at American University of Nigeria (AUN). Photo courtesy AUN.

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#CiscoChat: Why the World Needs More Girls in Tech

Did you know that women account for only 30 percent of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) workforce? Or that they earn 57 percent of all U.S. undergraduate degrees, but only 18 percent of undergraduate computer and information sciences degrees?

Though shattering the glass ceiling is almost always never easy, women around the world have made great strides in forging careers in fields previously dominated by men. From healthcare and politics to the automotive and financial services industries, women continue to make headlines for ascending to coveted corner offices and executive suites. However, women continue to remain highly invaluable – yet grossly untapped – resources within the ICT industry.

#ciscochat

As Cisco prepares to participate in this year’s international Girls in ICT Day and encourage young women to embrace ICT careers, answering the question of why the world need more women in tech has become one that needs answers. We have our thoughts and we want to hear yours.

We’re hosting a #CiscoChat to discuss this very topic. Be sure to join us on Tuesday, April 14 from 10 to 11 a.m. PST and share your ideas, solutions and real-world experience to help us answer the question “Why the World Needs More Girls in Tech?”

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Mentoring At-Risk Students Good for Our Hearts and Minds

Last week, I was acknowledged by the Alum Rock Counseling Center for my personal commitment to mentoring at-risk students. As I prepared my thank you remarks, I was reminded how much I value youth mentoring nonprofits such as Alum Rock, Big Brother Big Sisters, and Child Advocates. Through mentor-mentee relationships, students are propelled to learn, to grow, and to discover their own genius.

It worked for me.

HCF #2

My parents immigrated to the United States in the early 1970s with little experience on living, working, or educating my sisters and me in this country. As a result, I leaned on mentors to guide me in areas my parents could not. Mentors who connected with my heart and with my mind made all the difference, because literacy and math achievement programs alone were not enough.

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