Rising Above the Storms
Bridge Award Winner Alphonsine Imaniraguha Born and raised in Rwanda, Alphonsine lost her parents and two of her siblings during the 1994 genocide. At 13, she had no choice but to become a parent to her three younger siblings. Despite hurdles and amid great loss, she was able to earn her college and graduate degrees in engineering. Then Alphonsine got her dream job at Cisco. She now works in CX out of RTP and is soon to be married. Alphonsine started Rising Above the Storms to advocate for orphans and empower vulnerable youth through education. She launched a learning center in Rwanda to serve as a haven for street children to dream and have hope. At the center, homeless kids get basic hygiene and clean clothes, are fed, receive counseling, and are helped to return to traditional schools and their communities.
Some of our Bridge Award winners' charities aren't available in Bright funds, so in honor of their volunteer work, we'd like to recognize Joy Bradley, Cathy Burns, Rajeev Kumar, Ramachandran Sriram, Shawn Tylka, Scott Waller and Daud Yamin. NetHope empowers committed nonprofit organizations to change the world through the power of technology. By facilitating collaboration between NetHope's nonprofit members, charitable foundations and tech sponsors, NetHope is a catalyst for productive innovation and problem-solving in humanitarian and conservation work. Since its founding in 2001, NetHope has grown to represent 44 top tier international NGOs, working on some of the world's toughest challenges including poverty and hunger, refugee displacement, human trafficking, gender inequality, and environmental protection in 180 countries worldwide.
ReDI School of Digital Integration gGmbH
Cisconian Claus Schaale has invested hundreds of hours to teach courses like Cloud Security and IOT for multiple years at the Refugee School for Digital Integration (ReDI), which was founded with the intent to break down barriers and help newcomers integrate into society during the refugee crisis in 2015 when more than one million people fled to Germany. He partnered with the Networking Academy to get internships at Cisco for qualified students, has mentored individuals, organized fundraisers with his personal contacts, and even forged new relationships with partners such as Microsoft, SAP and Bosch to get them involved with ReDI. His work has fundamentally changed lives with 60 percent of the students who went through the internship now working in paid positions. "What is truly remarkable is how deeply he invests to help open doors for his students - whether to get them opportunities for work, or to make them feel less scared and alone in a foreign country. He would personally host students for dinner with his family, which may not sound like much, but when you are new in a country, still learning the language, having a lot of trouble finding work, and not having your friends and family anywhere near you - it means the world."
Love Never Fails
Cisconian Vanessa M Russell is the Founder and Executive Director of the non-profit Love Never Fails, which restores human trafficking victims, and places them in a safe house to ensure they have stable and healthy home lives, sustainable jobs and and every day workplace clothing. One of their programs, IT Biz, is a Cisco Networking Academy. The program began this year, and the first students were homeless, trafficked, or part of the foster care system. They graduated the program and took their CCENT exams this summer. Several of them are now working full time at Cisco customers and partners. "Vanessa, her husband, and the Love Never Fails team are literally changing the trajectory of people's lives through a personal passion that human trafficking can be stopped with focused attention. She is a superhero searching Bay Area neighborhoods for potential victims, placing them in homes, and introducing them to new life."