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

January 7, 2015 at 3:00 am PST

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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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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When Giving Gets Going: Cisco’s 48-Hour Race with Second Harvest

This week, Cisco was named the winner of Second Harvest Food Bank’s  48-Hour Virtual Race to End Hunger.  Raising money – just over $216,000 for this year’s race – to support our neighbors in need and at risk of food insecurity is now a signature part of our participation in the Cisco Global Hunger Relief Campaign – a company fundraising drive that benefits over 160 nonprofits worldwide.

After 8 years participating in the local 48-Hour Race, the Silicon Valley spirit of competition has spread to many other Cisco locations that compete in their own ways during the 48-Hour Race, including India and China.

hunger

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Cisco Employees Race to End Hunger in India

“There is no better expenditure of money and it’s really important for these kids to stay in school and learn. I love this program; this is one of the finest commitments ever made in the 10 years history of Clinton Global Initiative.”

How beautiful and true these words are from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, about the mid-day meal program of Akshya Patra, which is Cisco India’s primary benefiting organization for our Global Hunger Relief Campaign. Through this program, over 1.4 million children from 10,661 schools across 10 states in India receive a good meal each day that they are in school. This is the world’s largest mid-day meal program and it makes an incredible impact.

According to the World Food Programme, one-third of the world’s hungry live in India. “Six days I would eat, then the next six days I wouldn’t eat at all,” said 9-year-old Roshan. The tiny girl grew up on a diet of 600 calories per day, not even half as much as a child her age should receive. And across India, millions of children like Roshan suffer from severe hunger.

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Cisco Employees Race to End Hunger in China

Even before I started with Cisco, I was an active volunteer and had a focus on increasing educational access in rural China. After I joined Cisco, I quickly connected with the Civic Council to continue my passion for giving back. Civic Councils are teams of employees who plan volunteer events, develop partnerships, manage product donation programs, and make local cash donations. As our Civic Council leader, my main function is to create volunteer events and recruit employees to participate, and it has been very rewarding!

The China Research and Development Center (CRDC) Civic Council exists to identify volunteer opportunities and connect the demand to the supply of Cisco capital (employees and resources). You might be surprised as to how this helps me perform and excel in my Cisco role as an Engineering Manager. At the finish line of each volunteer program we manage and execute, I am rewarded to see how everyone benefits – not just those we served – but also the Cisco employees who volunteered. I use that momentum to fuel our next volunteer program.

hiking for one egg

The China team volunteering for Shanghai United Foundation

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