Our Cisco partnership is powered by inclusion, love, and technology
On Friday, October 29, our partners at Cisco came to see the new space in New York City where our young people will take residence in a few short weeks. It was right outside these doors that six young professionals from Cisco, including Leah Rayburn (L, green sweater), created the first ever Team Cisco for the Sleep Out in March 2014. All we knew at the time was that these coworkers really liked each other and they felt empowered to do more in their community. We had no idea that this was the start of the Cisco revolution for Covenant House.
For eight years, Cisco has been on the frontlines of serving youth overcoming homelessness and has consistently stepped up to be hope and love in the world. To date, Cisco has engaged over 1,600 employees in the Sleep Out and raised over $6 million to help Covenant House programs build a bridge to hope for young people facing homelessness and survivors of human trafficking.
Cisco’s culture is built on full-spectrum participation. They emphasize inclusion and collaboration, and the importance of each person feeling empowered. Cisco embodies love day after day, and they operate with a belief that their employees and their community deserve a more inclusive future.
Rachael Chambers, director in the Office of Transformation at Cisco said, “Always lead with kindness, compassion and a willingness to listen first. Every person you meet in this world has a story to tell filled with love, success, struggle, failure, and a desire to matter in some way. Raise each person that you meet up with respect and unconditional love. We are all humans on this journey together…be someone that was kind. It feels better for everyone involved!”
In the past two years, Cisco has positioned itself as a safety net as much as a partner for Covenant House. In this new building alone, Cisco has donated 500+ phones, 120+ cameras, tech support, and more; with a total value of over $660,000 worth of equipment.
When the COVID pandemic struck, Cisco responded immediately to provide significant emergency relief funds to help keep our services operating 24/7. Cisco funded the expansion of Covenant House’s operations in California to the city of Santa Clara, when a brand new site opened in May 2021 for 30 residents, including five units designated for parenting youth and their children.
And, during this prolonged pandemic, Cisco donated Webex online meeting software to Covenant House, allowing our internal teams and event organizers to bring people together in an intimate and seamless way without the burden of extra costs. Going virtual made events like the Sleep Out more accessible, and participation increased substantially.
Our gratitude for Cisco’s partnership extends beyond any words we could include on this page. The passion of the people at Cisco and the vision of their leadership has made it possible for us to think about where we might be able to open the next Covenant House and how we might improve our programs to serve our youth better.