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Cisco Volunteers Build New Home for Texas Disaster Victims

Employees from Cisco’s Richardson, Texas campus were pleased to attend a dedication on July 21 for the new owners of the Habitat for Humanity house that Cisco funded in West, Texas.

You may remember back in April 2013, a fertilizer plant exploded in West, killing 15 people and injuring more than 300. A nursing home, apartment complex, schools, and private homes were destroyed.

At the dedication this week, new homeowner Gloria Alamos and her daughter Breanna accepted the keys to the house that Cisco volunteers spent 551 hours working on for 6 months. This was the first Habitat for Humanity house funded following the fertilizer plant explosion, and Cisco was the first corporation to contact Waco Habitat for Humanity about the rebuilding process within 48 hours of the blast.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

Homeowner Gloria Alamos and Cisco employee Dan Weaver, who attended every volunteer build except one.

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Cisco France Holds Second Annual “Giving Back” Day

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team in France recently organized the second Cisco France #GivingBackDay and 74 volunteers participated. Under a shining sun, they spend half a day helping local non-for-profit organizations multiply their impact.

The volunteers could choose from 7 activities for social good, all within walking distance from the Cisco Paris office. Some decided to help decorate a shelter for the homeless, or to give a hand to a local organization specializing in rehabilitation through gardening.

Others gave their time to sort food and material in a charity grocery shop, helped the Connected Bees team jar its last honey harvest, or helped unemployed people prepare for job interviews. In addition, 13 employees learned live-saving techniques from the Red Cross.

Cisco employees gardened and improved the living space of sheep, which graze along a hard-to-manage railroad embankment, promoting biodiversity and reducing the need for pesticides.

Cisco employees gardened and improved the living space of sheep, which graze along a hard-to-manage railroad embankment, promoting biodiversity and reducing the need for pesticides.

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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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Cisco and Techbridge Inspire Girls to Discover Passion for Technology

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute, more than half of all girls say they don’t typically consider a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). At Cisco, we can change that – with the help of nonprofit partners like Techbridge, we can inspire girls to discover a passion for technology, science, and engineering.

As part of National Engineers Week and our efforts to empower the next generation of innovators and leaders, Cisco welcomed 30 fifth-grade girls from the Komatsu and Esperanza schools in Oakland, California to its San Jose campus earlier today, where they took part in a wide range of hands-on activities designed by Techbridge. Since launching in 2000, Techbridge has expanded academic options and STEM career opportunities for underrepresented minorities and more than 4000 girls in grades 5-12.

Shari Slate, Cisco's Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer, inspired the girls to pursue careers in STEM

Shari Slate, Cisco’s Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer, inspired the girls to pursue careers in STEM

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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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