cisco systems

How Cisco supports tomorrow’s STEM superstars

At Citizen Schools, corporations committed to giving back to their communities play a large role in allowing us to bring our program to thousands of students across the country, and we’re fortunate to be working with one such company that takes CSR seriously: Cisco Systems, Inc.

The term, “corporate social responsibility” might sound like another boardroom buzzword at first, but it means a lot to us at Citizen Schools. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is defined as “a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for all stakeholders.” CSR has been getting a lot of attention in recent years as a means for corporations to connect with their stakeholders and build trust with the public.

Cisco uses technology to meet some of society’s biggest challenges, including the STEM achievement gap. Tae Yoo, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Cisco, said in the New York Times that Cisco is strengthening the ranks of a new generation of thinkers and doers.

“We are harnessing the power of technology to launch a generation of problem solvers,” says Yoo. “They are being taught to innovate like technologists, think like entrepreneurs and act as social change agents.”

Cisco employees worldwide make time to volunteer, donating their time and money to improving the quality of life for those around them. But the spirit of giving doesn’t stop there. Cisco is also a valuable resource for nonprofit organizations in every stage of development, investing in innovative, early-stage solutions to successful nationwide program. We are thankful to be on the receiving end of Cisco’s generosity when it comes to volunteers, product grants and financial support.

Citizen Schools has partnered with Cisco since 2010, and we’re proud to be working with them again this year. In that time, 3,705 Cisco employees have volunteered with Citizen Schools and US2020. Together, they’ve completed nearly 47,000 hours of service. The Cisco Foundation has supported both Citizen Schools and MIND Research Institute to use MIND’s ST Math instructional software at several of our campuses in Illinois and Massachusetts. The goal is to offer more personalized and more efficient academic support during the expanded day for students. We’re continuing to implement it this school year.

Cisco provides charitable organizations with the financial and technological resources they need to achieve their goals. Qualifying organizations large and small apply for access to the networking technology and equipment necessary to increase their capacity to serve a community, a nation or the world. These grants aren’t given to just anyone. Cisco gives preference to organizations working in its three issue focus areas of critical human needs (food, shelter, water and disaster response); K-8 education, and economic empowerment. Cisco also asks that these applicants use the S.M.A.R.T. metrics system (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) to ensure that each recipient has an actionable game plan and end goal.

Citizen Schools has grown a lot in recent years, thanks to support from companies like Cisco. In one year, we expanded from 10 schools in five states to 29 schools in six states. In 2015, we enrolled our 40,000th student. With the increased capacity to serve more schools, we’ve seen some exciting statistics. Citizen Schools students perform three months ahead of their peers in math, on a yearly basis. 71 percent of Citizen Schools students graduate high school and 61 percent of CS alumni enroll in college. The impact is clear: Citizen Schools programs make a day-to-day difference for our students.

We’re learning something new every year. We’re achieving goals and setting new ones. Thanks to companies like Cisco and all of our corporate partners, we’re able to continue working to expand and elevate youth education. We know it’s essential to the future of discovery and innovation. That’s why we’re proud to be partners again in 2017, closing the opportunity gap one student at a time.