It takes a village: How Cisco is fighting homelessness in our own backyard
In many ways, the seed was planted on a chilly late-November night in 2019.
That’s when more than 300 Cisco employees swapped their comfortable beds for the cold, hard pavement of the company’s San Jose, California headquarters parking lot.
The Sleep Out event was designed to raise both awareness and critical funds to ensure Covenant House can provide food, shelter, clothing, and essential services to homeless young people. Youth homelessness is especially acute right in Cisco’s backyard — Santa Clara County suffers from the third-highest rate of chronic homelessness in the United States.
Less than two years later, on a warm, sunny, late-spring day, the seed reached full bloom.
On May 20, 2021, Covenant House officially opened a new facility in the city of Santa Clara, with Cisco providing operational funding, connectivity, and assistance with their technology implementation.
Occupying a former motel, Covenant House Santa Clara provides housing for 18- to 24-year-olds for up to two years, or until they are ready to move into their own homes. Services include three nutritious meals per day, onsite case management, mental health counseling, education and employment support, and access to long-term housing opportunities.
“Our journey to Santa Clara started five years ago,” said Bill Bedrossian, CEO of Covenant House California. “We knew we needed to be here, but we didn’t know how to do it because they kept telling me there is no money. But the momentum really took off on that cold night in November 2019 when hundreds of Cisco employees slept with us in a parking lot and wanted to do something in their community for young people.”
Customer Zero starts “California Dreaming” to make a difference
Cisco has committed to improving the lives of one billion people globally by 2025 (and we’re already at 716 million!). One way to meet that goal is by working with the private and public sectors to reduce homelessness around the world. “The power of public/private partnerships is astounding,” said Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins. “The ability for us to really work together is the way we’ll solve problems.”
That highly collaborative spirit was on full display as multiple organizations – inside and outside Cisco – raced to make Covenant House Santa Clara a reality.
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