Cisco Systems Foundation Award Grants Unite and Honor the Local Nonprofit Community
August 23, 2002
By Amy Glynn Hornick, News @ Cisco
Hundreds of nonprofit community organizations provide an array of services to people in Cisco's Bay Area backyard - and the Cisco Systems Foundation salutes these groups for the work they do.
Building on efforts that began years ago when a number of Cisco's 200 employees climbed a fence to help out at a neighborhood school, the Cisco Foundation, since 1996, has awarded San Jose Community Grants to eligible nonprofits for making a difference in their communities.
In a recognition breakfast at Cisco's headquarters earlier this month, the company's corporate philanthropy group brought together 73 local agencies to award them with more than $900,000 in community grants. This bi-annual event provides a unique platform for attendees to share ideas and resources as well as to discuss ways that technology can help them provide faster and more efficient services. In 2002, nearly 150 community and nonprofit groups providing vital services in education, shelter, food, health and community service received a total of $1.9 million in grants.
"At Cisco, we want to do our part in building lasting solutions to the many issues facing our community," said Tae Yoo, vice president of corporate philanthropy. "We thank these organizations for giving Cisco the opportunity to partner with them in serving our community."
A natural outgrowth of the event, according to Cathey Murray Eskandari, Vice President, Goodwill of Santa Clara County and Director of Vocational Services for its A+ Certificate Program, is the sharing and learning that occurs when such a high caliber group of organizations come together in one place. "I love this program because it allows us to discover what other programs are out there to help us meet our client's needs," she says. "We all need to partner to do better work, and it's wonderful to learn about new programs we can benefit from."
The conference enabled Eskandari to make two new connections and potential future partnerships-one with the Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency's (DCARA) Computer Training Program for the Deaf, an organization looking to expand its computer training in San Jose. "DCARA is a natural partner because of the populations we both serve," says Eskandari. "They need space and that's one thing Goodwill of Santa Clara has a lot of - we have nine acres and a building with 160,000 sq ft to allow us to expand and enrich our services." She also spoke with Jewish Vocational Services (JVC) about creating a regional partnership to enable both organizations to learn from one another as they expand their individual career training programs.
Goodwill of Santa Clara County's A+ Certification Program was honored for creating a program that opens doors for welfare recipients and the working poor to careers in entry-level IT positions. Cisco's support will help provide 25 or more adults gain skills for self-sufficiency and entry into the workforce. Last year, this program trained and placed 128 individuals in jobs and it is estimated that those individuals will earn an aggregate total of over $2.6 million in their first year of work, helping to reduce welfare, Social Security and other public assistance support by more than $175,000.
"By providing training at a community based organization site we are able to reach out to individuals and families with numerous barriers to employment," says Eskandari. "The goal is to build long-term relationships with our clients to help them work their way up the career path so they can make a livable wage and support their families."
Jonathan Klein, Executive Director of Teach for America was able to share ideas with Theatreworks and Parents helping Parents, organizations that are currently working with schools to enrich the education process. "We network with a multitude of organizations and share this information with our teachers," he says. "By linking them with innovative and creative community resources our teachers are able to do the best job possible."
Teach for America calls upon some of the nation's most promising future leaders to commit two years to teach in low income school districts across the country. "The goal is to have an immediate impact on kids growing up in low income areas," says Klein. "We are working to level the playing field to assure these kids are catching up to their peers in wealthier school districts."
In the past, sixty teachers have been sent to the Bay Area annually. Additional funding this year, including the Cisco Community Grant, is helping to bring 150 teachers to six Bay Area school districts in San Jose, East Palo Alto, Alameda, Oakland, and San Francisco. The Cisco Grant will subsidize Teach for America's recruiting, selection, training and ongoing support processes for six teachers at two schools in San Jose. The goal is to create a sustainable Bay Area program of this size and scale. This fall, Teach for America Teachers will impact over 17,000 of the Bay Area's neediest students.
Other Bay Area organizations, recognized for their innovative and community-minded programming include OUTREACH's work with seniors in need; Arts Council Silicon Valley's Connect program serving at-risk youth; Operation Access' outpatient surgeries and consultation program for the uninsured; Shelter Network's Haven Family House program helping homeless families find permanent housing; and, Mercy Housing California's multi-lingual computer classes for Spanish and Vietnamese adults. Other award recipients include The Center for AIDS Services' Food Provision Project, The Child Abuse Prevention Center Education & Training Program, Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) Cisco Networking Technology Training and Certification Program and Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen Food Provision Program.
The San Jose Community Grant Awards ceremony is one of several grant programs supported by Cisco Corporate Philanthropy committed to helping local nonprofits make positive changes in their communities. Eligible organizations can receive funding for up to three consecutive years. Since its inception, the program has awarded more than 500 grants to area nonprofits amounting to nearly $7 million. For a complete list of award recipients and their URLs go to www.cisco.com/warp/public/750/philanthropy/recipients/.
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