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Bay Area Nonprofit Grantees Reunite with Cisco Employee Champions at Awards Event

June 10, 2013 at 4:16 pm PST

One of Cisco’s longest-running traditions is a special program for Silicon Valley nonprofits, which has offered Community Impact Cash Grants to carefully selected community organizations for more than a decade. In recent years, the grant amount has been set at $15,000 each for programs focused on K-8 education and health, a subset of Cisco’s overall social investment areas.

A unique aspect of the program is its reliance on Cisco employee volunteers. While holding down their day jobs, these hardworking team members help drive every aspect of the grantmaking process – from evaluating the applications to performing site visits to identifying the 40 strongest applicants from a large and worthy pool. (See this year’s awardees.) On Wednesday, this year’s recipients gathered at Cisco’s headquarters in San Jose, California, to pick up their checks, brainstorm with peers about common challenges they face, and reunite with the Cisco employees who helped evaluate and recommend their grant proposals as the most competitive.

From left: Operation Access’ Marisol Ponce de Leon, Cisco’s Cindy Cooley, and Operation Access’ Ellen Kaufman.

From left: Operation Access’ Marisol Ponce de Leon, Cisco’s Cindy Cooley, and Operation Access’ Ellen Kaufman.

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Great Expectations: Onward and Upward

As a young man growing up in the East End of London during the 1970s, I recall that some parents had low expectations for their children. Their thinking, our child probably won’t amount to much, given their environment. Why? Prolonged poverty can deplete the human spirit of any hope for a better future.

Throughout its history, the area was known as an affordable haven for poor people and immigrants. East London had developed rapidly during the 19th century. The neighborhoods surrounding the West India Docks the East India Docks and Mill Wall Dock — along the banks of the river Thames — were once thriving communities of tradesmen and merchants.

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