Every day, we have the opportunity to make the world a better a place. Here at Cisco, we take that opportunity to heart and find ways to multiply the impact we can make. For the past 15 years, Cisco has helped raise more than $40 million and deliver nearly 160 million meals as part of its global hunger relief efforts. This year, we created a new employee giving program that empowers employees to provide direct aid to those with uncertain access to life’s necessities—to “Be the Bridge” for those in need.

As part of this more expansive initiative, we’ve set up partnerships with more than 400 nonprofit organizations in 99 cities and 33 countries around the world that provide not only food, but shelter, water access, nutrition, and emergency care to those most vulnerable, globally and locally. Employees can give to global organizations such as Doctors without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, Water for People, Red Cross International, or CARE; or give to a homeless shelter, food kitchen, or emergency care organization in their local communities, just to name a few. And Cisco is matching any donation of US$50 up to US$10,000 to double the impact.

It was Cisco’s hope to inspire thousands of employees worldwide to support their cause of choice, and together, raise more than US$5 million in donations and matching funds through the Be the Bridge campaign. With one more week to go, we’re more than halfway there, but there’s still good work to be done. Together, we can make a difference in ensuring that a child does not go to sleep hungry; that those in need receive the clean water required for their bodies to function; and that a family in crisis does not sleep in the streets. The need is great and every dollar counts:

  • 3 percent of the world’s population is hungry. That’s roughly 805 million people who go undernourished on a daily basis, consuming less than the recommended 2,100 calories a day.
  • An estimated 7.6 million children—more than 20,000 a day—die. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of these deaths.
  • 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water; approximately one in nine people.
  • Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation, and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year, or approximately 2,300 people per day.
  • An estimated 100 million people are homeless worldwide and as many as 1 billion people lack adequate housing.
  • Nearly 25 percent of all homeless people in the United States are children.

For so many people around the world, dependable access to basic human necessities is a struggle. Take hunger. According to the United Nations’ World Food Program, about one in nine people globally—or nearly 800 million people—do not have enough food or nutrition to lead a healthy, active life. And while most of these individuals live in developing countries, this is truly a global issue—with hunger and other basic needs affecting lives even in thriving urban centers.

But, we are making an impact. To help raise funds to provide mid-day meals to schoolchildren in an ongoing campaign, Cisco partners exclusively with The Akshaya Patra Foundation in India, which focuses on eliminating hunger and making primary education available for all. Since our partnership began in FY09, we have fed nearly 195,000 children a mid-day meal for an entire year. Your gift of just US$25 feeds two children studying in a government school an afternoon meal on school days for a year, with beneficial effects on attendance and enrollment across schools. On Nov. 2, at the Cisco Bangalore, India campus, we hosted the CEO of The Akshaya Patra Foundation. Later in the week, students and from Concern India Foundation, a Akshaya Patra beneficiary, visited the campus and worked with employees to create Diwali decorations, and more than 95 volunteers painted earthen lamps as a thank you gift to the India’s government schools, which help to feed hungry students every day.

Together, we can make a difference. Spread the word by using social media to let the world know how you are “being the bridge.” Share your stories by using the #BeTheBridge and #WeAreCisco hashtags and inspire others by posting to the Cisco CSR Facebook page.

If you’re a Cisco employee and want to donate or volunteer, visit Cisco CSR and learn how you can start making a difference locally or globally today.

Watch this blog and follow Cisco CSR on Twitter as we continue to discuss ways to multiply impact and bring positive change in the world.


Tae Yoo

No Longer with Cisco