Here in Silicon Valley and many towns across the globe, it’s that time of year. The time of year when we’re looking forward to spending time with family and friends. It’s also the time of year when we turn our attention to giving back to those who are less fortunate.

This season, I want to direct the focus to just a few of the Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partners and non-profits who work tirelessly to give back all year long. These connections are what make the CSR work we do possible. Our partners give us the ability to scale our efforts and create exponential social, environmental, and business impact.

One of our CSR focus areas is education. As the world becomes more connected, new career growth and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are more plentiful than ever. Yet the majority of U.S. students lack foundational skills in STEM. MIND Research Institute set out to ensure that all students are mathematically equipped to solve the world’s most challenging problems. By developing the game-based Spatial Temporal (ST) Math instructional software program, MIND Research Institute is revolutionizing math education through visual learning. Amazingly, schools that fully implement ST Math see double, and even triple, the growth in math proficiency than comparable schools. Cisco has partnered with MIND Research Institute for over a decade now, helping the organization scale delivery and access to ST Math by transitioning the software to a web-based platform. I’m extremely proud that this work and investment has increased access from 55,000 students in 2007 to more than 800,000 students and 31,000 teachers in 40 states, and is helping develop the workforce of the future.

Cisco CSR is also focused on critical human needs. Every year, natural disasters cause devastation around the world. We support organizations such as NetHope, CARE, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to deliver life-saving resources to those in need. Reaching 150 million people in 189 National Societies through the work of over 17 million volunteers, the Red Cross and Red Crescent federation is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Through this partnership, we’re able to reach millions of people affected by disasters – from fires to hurricanes and floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous material spills, accidents, and more – each year. Just last week, millions of people were displaced and at least 27 killed in the Philippines when Super Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as Ruby, hit. The response efforts of the Red Cross and Red Crescent are invaluable in both international and local situations that leave so many devastated.

And while disasters ravage societies in one unsettling event, many people face dire consequences on an ongoing, daily basis. Three billion people – nearly half the world’s population – live on less than US$2 per day. Those who live in poverty often have no recourse or resources to change their situation, leaving them chained to a cycle of poverty that plagues generations, not only affecting individuals but entire communities and regions. The Grameen Foundation provides access to essential financial services and information on agriculture and health – assistance that can have wide-scale impact by helping people become economically self-sufficient. Cisco joined forces with Grameen Foundation in 2006, and in that time the non-profit has developed and expanded adoption of its technology-based tools among organizations working to alleviate poverty. Its financing, mobile health, and mobile agriculture solutions have benefited 4.7 million people worldwide.

This is just a small sampling of the many partners that Cisco CSR works with to address some of society’s biggest challenges around education, critical human needs and disaster relief, healthcare, and economic empowerment. This season, and throughout the year, I want to acknowledge the efforts and initiatives that each of our partners drive. When we give back to society, we create a powerhouse that not only touches and changes the lives of individuals, but builds a stronger, more resilient world – a world that doesn’t merely exist, but thrives.

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