NEW ORLEANS - March 15, 2006 - Cisco Systems Inc. today announced the expansion of the 21st Century Schools Program (21S) into Louisiana. Representing the second phase of a $40 million initiative announced in October 2005, Cisco is now investing the remaining $20 million 21S commitment over three-years to help Louisiana with education rebuilding activities.
Cisco's 21S initiative is a blueprint for reconstructing and improving schools that can be replicated across the country. The first phase of the 21S program began in Mississippi with the Mississippi Education Initiative (MEI) and included seven school districts and 33 schools, reaching more than 20,000 students. The second phase of the 21S program—dubbed the Louisiana Education Initiative (LEI)—will help build a world-class education system in Louisiana, beginning with eight schools within the Jefferson Parish Public School System, reaching 5,200 students.
"As the rebuilding process moves forward, there is a unique opportunity to positively impact Louisiana's education system," said Cisco Chairman John Morgridge. "By partnering with local schools, government and non-profit organizations, we can use technology to create state-of-the-art schools that provide teachers and students with the best technological resources. Improved educational opportunities will lead to stronger and more vibrant communities."
"I want to thank Cisco for their corporate commitment to help us build a stronger public education system, using technology to bridge the learning gap and prepare our students for advancement," said Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco. "Recovery takes on many facets and education is one of the most critical. Cisco realizes, like we do, that providing a quality education to our children is our most worthwhile investment. I applaud Cisco for their leadership and for their helping hand."
Cisco's investment in the Louisiana Education Initiative will include technology solutions aimed at improving student outcomes and economic growth opportunities for specific schools and communities in Jefferson Parish. The technology provided will include highly secure broadband networks that foster better communication between schools, parents, local businesses and the community.
"One of the silver linings in the storm clouds from Hurricane Katrina is the outpouring of support from corporations like Cisco," said Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Cecil J. Picard. "Cisco's technology expertise and overall commitment to our schools will help us as we work to create a first-class educational system that prepares our young people to compete in a global economy."
Cisco is committing approximately 50 percent of the investment in cash, and the other half in in-kind time, expertise and equipment. The cash contribution will be distributed to local schools through a grant program run through the Jefferson Parish Education Foundation. Cisco's in-kind contribution includes ten "21S Fellows" or Cisco employees, deployed in the Gulf Coast area on a full-time basis for three years. The 21S Fellows are providing consulting and a range of expertise in educational governance, curriculum development, teacher training, e-learning and the use of technology in schools.
"One of the keys to reopening our home is the rebuilding of our school systems," said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La. "Cisco Systems' announcement today to expand the 21st Century Schools Program into Louisiana is exciting news. As leaders in our community, we must be committed to providing all of our educators with the tools they need to ensure that every child is learning. Cisco's involvement will greatly help these efforts, and I look forward to working with them and the Louisiana Department of Education as we strive to rebuild a better, stronger school system for the children of New Orleans and Louisiana."
The schools benefiting from the 21S Program were selected based on a number of different criteria ranging from the number of displaced students they are educating, to the leaderships' willingness and ability to drive change, to their demonstrated understanding of the value in using technology to help close the learning gap among students.
The following schools within Jefferson Parish have been selected for the first phase of the Louisiana Education Initiative:West Bank Schools:
- L. W. Higgins High School
- Stella Worley Middle School
- Bridge City Elementary School
- Vic A. Pitre Elementary School
- East Jefferson High School
- T. H. Harris Middle School
- Bridgedale Elementary School
- Rudolph Matas Elementary School
The 21S program will work with schools in Louisiana and Mississippi to build Connected Schools and Connected Learning environments, and ultimately Connected Communities. Specifically,
- Connected Schools: Cisco will establish a baseline technology platform which includes a converged data, video and voice network. The technology supports the higher level of functionality needed for anywhere, anytime access for students and teachers and best-in-class teaching and administration applications and solutions.
- Connected Learning: Cisco will partner with school leadership in each selected district or parish to:
- Pilot technology-enabled educational programs aimed at improving student outcomes and building 21st century skills
- Provide instructional technology consultants and funds to assist in the implementation of Mississippi and Louisiana Department of Education state-specific programs
- Establish Professional Learning Communities within and between the schools and with other educational institutions around the world to expand development opportunities for teachers and administrators
- Connected Communities: Cisco will provide a highly secure, scalable, broadband (wireless mesh or equivalent) network infrastructure or other related technologies which enables new communications applications to allow schools to increase interaction and communications between schools, parents, local businesses and the community as a whole.
Cisco intends to bring together a coalition of education and community leaders and private and non-profit organizations to drive the 21S Program. By engaging key technology, education and service delivery partners, Cisco will extend the reach and impact of the program.