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For Immediate Release
June 12th, 2009

Jill Winkelstein, SVEF
(408) 790-9590

Silicon Valley Education Foundation Honors Cisco's John Chambers With Leadership Award
5TH Annual Fundraiser Held This Week

SAN JOSE, CA. –John Chambers, Silicon Valley executive and global philanthropist, was honored this week for his deep commitment to education by the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) with their 2009 Pioneer Business Leader Award.

Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco, received the award at SVEF’s 5th annual Pioneers & Purpose dinner Tuesday night at the San Jose Fairmont. The event raised funds for programs aimed at improving student performance in math, science and the English language arts and for teacher grant programs across Santa Clara County’s 34 school districts.

More than 500 people attended the dinner, which featured speeches by honoree John Chambers and Dr. Martha Kanter, Chancellor of the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District and nominee for U.S. Undersecretary of Education.

Chambers said he was deeply humbled and honored to receive the 2009 Pioneer Business Leader Award. He stressed the importance of corporate social responsibility and said that in tough economic times it especially makes a difference.

"Our education system is in trouble," he said. "The most successful must give back. We need to do this for the next generation."

Chambers praised the Silicon Valley Education Foundation for its ability to provide access to academic and other children’s programs across all of Santa Clara County’s 34 school districts and how the foundation connects the education, business and civic communities in Silicon Valley.

Chambers has led numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives around the world, many of them focused on improving access to education.

Generous corporate sponsorship for the event came from General Atlantic, Oracle, Cisco, FoxConn, Flextronics, PG&E,, SanDisk, Alloy Ventures, Bozzuto Insurance, Comcast, Goldman Sachs, Greenberg Traurig, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi Data Systems, TriNet and Wells Fargo.

In addition, $130,000 was raised at the event by individuals such as John Chambers, who started off the night with a personal donation. Other donors included Bruce and Gail Chizen, Ray and Kristin Bingham, Fasyal and Shazia Sohail, Lisa and Matt Sonsini, Wim and Maria Roelandts, John Radford, Alex Mendez, and a number of executives from Cisco, including Larry Carter, Van Dang, Laura Ipsen, Randy Pond, Tae Yoo, Eric Yuan, Donald McLaughlin, K. Blair and Joe Christie, and Kevin Johnson.

Prominent elected officials who attended the dinner included San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Santa Clara County Schools Superintendent Chuck Weis, County Supervisor Dave Cortese, San Jose City Councilmembers Kansen Chu, Pierluigi Oliverio, Sam Liccardo, Pete Constant, Ash Kalra and Nancy Pyle, along with many of Silicon Valley’s most prominent business and education leaders.

During her speech, Kanter emphasized that investing in education is a way to restart the economy and invest in the future. She said although education statistics are grim and dropout rates are high, programs offered by SVEF are helping move students toward success in high school and college readiness.

The evening also included a presentation by students and a teacher who participated in the foundation’s successful Stepping Up to Algebra program last summer. They described the benefits of the special program for middle school students, which will benefit from funds raised during the evening. The program last year – its first – raised algebra proficiency among students who took it by 20 percent over the four-week course.

Funds raised for Pioneers & Purpose go toward SVEF’s Silicon Valley STEM Initiative to raise student performance in science, technology, engineering and math; the Lessonopoly open-source website; School Readiness programs; Education Forums, and Teacher Innovation Grants that offer $500 to teachers to implement innovative classroom projects.

"We are very pleased with the success of this night," said Muhammed Chaudhry, SVEF president and CEO. "It is heartwarming to see so many Silicon Valley companies come out to show how much they care about education. It demonstrates how important education is to Silicon Valley and the importance of nurturing the next generation of smart leaders."

Special recognition was given to single mom Olga Aguilar and her two children as SVEF’s Family of Distinction for overcoming numerous hardships in their lives.

The fundraising event was the second put on under the banner of the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, which formed in February 2008 by the merger of the San Jose Education Foundation and the Santa Clara County Education Foundation.

About SVEF:
We are a non-profit organization that delivers literacy and academic enrichment programs to public school students in partnership with the corporate sector and education community. We focus on the needs of our constituents: students, families, teachers, community and education leaders. We listen to their needs and find innovative solutions to their challenges.

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