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Engineering a STEM mentoring moonshot

The following post was originally published in The Hill

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid out an ambitious goal for our nation – to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In doing so, he inspired a new generation and helped ensure U.S. global leadership in technology for years to come.

Today, we have an earthbound, but no less important, challenge. We face a massive skills gap — by 2018, our nation will have 1.8 million unfilled jobs requiring technical skills. Our nation’s business community is uniting to address the challenge.

We need to make sure that students of all backgrounds have the skills and opportunities to pursue a career in STEM– Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. This requires a national strategy, a chief component of which is STEM mentoring by STEM professionals.

Why mentoring? Because students won’t do what they can’t see. It’s one thing to teach math and science in the classroom. It’s another thing to build, explore, and engage the incredible world of science and technology that is transforming our society in real-time. Hands-on learning is the way to get a diverse group of students excited about STEM.

STEM mentors at Cisco

Participants with Techbridge Girls visit Cisco’s San Jose, California headquarters during a STEM mentoring event in February, 2015.

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Cisco Employees Line Up to Participate in #GivingTuesday

Forget about fighting crowds on Black Friday and maxing out your credit card on Cyber Monday. Join a movement that matters and kick off the giving season with #GivingTuesday on December 3. Just post or tweet about how you give back on any social media channel and use the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

Cisco is proud to be a partner — for the second year — in #GivingTuesday, an online effort to create a national day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. We are participating in two ways — by promoting Cisco’s annual Global Hunger Relief Campaign (#CiscoHungerRelief) and by driving volunteerism at several of our sites.

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers sorts food with employee volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers sorts food with employee volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties

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Three Cisco Employee Volunteers Recognized as “Citizen Teachers of the Year” by Citizen Schools

Three Cisco employees were recently named “Cisco Citizen Teachers of the Year” by Citizen Schools, one of Cisco’s longtime nonprofit education partners.

More than 125 volunteers from Cisco have stepped out of their jobs as engineers, sales executives, and technology professionals to become mentors and “Citizen Teachers,” leading groups of students in 10-week “apprenticeship” classes. Thanks to their commitment to the program, over 700 students have had access to caring mentors and developed an interest in pursuing future careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.

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Community Service is Good Business

When Steve Martino, Cisco’s vice president of information technology, drives along Route 101 in San Jose, Calif., he thinks about deadlines to meet, programs to initiate, and teams to lead through upcoming projects. But there is another set of thoughts which permeates his mind– those of the Habitat for Humanity projects he has led, which he can actually see from the highway.

“I enjoy being able to drive past a home or development that we worked on, see that result and say ‘I had something to do with that,’” Martino said. “Those people have a home and are happy in part because I invested time in it.”

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Networked Santa Visits Hospitalized Children

Noah Kiser is six months into leukemia treatment at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Although Christmas is days away, he must remain hospitalized for the time of year when he loves “seeing other people jump for joy.”

But thanks to Cisco networking technology and some very tech-savvy elves, Noah was able to visit Santa this year without leaving the hospital.

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