Cisco pledges $50 million to end homelessness in Santa Clara County

By Stephanie Chan

Cisco Chairman and CEO Chuck Robbins believes the homeless issue in Santa Clara County is a complex but solvable problem.  Today he announced that Cisco will pledge $50 million over the next five years to help end homelessness in Cisco’s own community. In partnership with Destination: Home, Cisco will leverage existing public resources to improve technology across Santa Clara County and create more housing for people in need. This commitment marks one of the largest corporate investments into Silicon Valley homelessness.

Robbins joined other guest speakers during a panel to celebrate Destination: Home’s 10 year anniversary. Other speakers included San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo, Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, HomeFirst case manager Summer-Lee Bettencourt, founding CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation Emmett Carson, and CEO of Destination: Home Jennifer Loving.

“Tech needs to get involved in these issues,” says Robbins, “We need to do something to help. My true north would be to eradicate homelessness.” Robbins’ announcement of the $50 million commitment brought everyone in attendance to their feet in a standing ovation.

“We have never had someone stand with us like this,” says Loving, “But we have him standing here now. It’s not just what the money means, but the CEO of a global company standing with us and saying this is important enough to get behind.”

Cisco’s $50 million pledge goes to Destination: Home, an organization that supports strategies to end homelessness in Santa Clara County. Destination: Home has already put into practice a method of supporting the homeless through permanent housing, an approach that has shown to be the first steps towards great change. This organization has found homes for more than 5,000 people in the last three years—and 94% of those are still in the housing.

Other initiatives from Destination: Home include homelessness prevention programs, systems to find living wage jobs for residents, and campaigns to end veteran homelessness.

“Who speaks for those who have no voice in the community? Who remembers those who are out of sight and who society decides to keep out of mind? This is the vital role Destination: Home plays in our community,” says Carson.

The $50 million pledge is a commitment from Cisco in conjunction with other public and private sector leaders. It is a continuation of the company’s commitment to positively impact the lives of 1 billion people around the world by 2025. Looking closely into Cisco’s own community in Santa Clara County, it’s clear that lack of housing is a crisis that needs to be addressed.

“Our Cisco team wanted to do this—they expedited it, and moved funding from other initiatives to move faster here. That speaks volumes,” says Robbins.

Santa Clara County has the third-highest rate of chronic homelessness in the United States–more than 2,000 individuals are chronically homeless and 7,400 people are without a home.

“I believe we can solve homelessness here. It’s just a matter of time,” says Chavez, “We can show how we can build Camelot here, and how it can be built over and over and over around the world.”

The monetary pledge is just one way Cisco is supporting through its innovation, resources, and support to address some of the world’s toughest problems. The company’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts create real impact around the world—in fiscal year 2017, employees provided 358,084 total volunteer hours. Cisco gave $15.8 million towards Foundation and corporate giving in the Bay Area in fiscal year 2016.

Starting locally and looking out globally can help set a practice of change throughout the world. The company looks forward to making a positive impact, utilizing pioneering tech to help aid homelessness, and testing new social service models.

[Used with the permission of Image courtesy: Cisco]

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