It didn’t take much to become enamored with Free the Children. We, Cisco, were hooked by the story of an organization that began with a 12-year-old gathering eleven of his friends together to help end child labour, and grew into a national and international movement of youth empowerment. It’s no surprise that with brothers and co-founders Craig and Marc Kielburger at the helm, Free the Children has brought transformation to communities around the world. Their passion and drive has mobilized youth to create meaningful change.
We wanted to be a part of this tremendous movement. And so, in collaboration with our partner TELUS, a long time supporter of Free the Children, we set out to find a way to enable the organization that had truly inspired us all. Forget fundraising and volunteerism, at least for now, we wanted to do something BIG, something that would match the transformational power of this organization. The solution? A technology that creates an immersive in-person experience so real you have to see it to believe.
We were lucky…they got it. Free the Children understood the powerful potential of technology to help build critical connections with influential supporters, make its leaders more accessible and create greater connections with those in the field. Technology could also address the struggles created by demanding travel schedules of teams that are spread across Canada, UK and California, not to mention its field teams, and the frustrations that come with having to rely on traditional channels to communicate.
We proposed a new way for Free the Children to collaborate. One that would enable direct, live, face-to-face connections with anyone in the world. It sounds complicated but in fact, it isn’t. The solution was the donation of six Cisco TelePresence (EX90) units, WebEx Telepresence and Jabber video to deliver an immersive in-person experience, all over Free the Children’s network. Sure, there were volunteered hours, support services from our tremendous engineers, meetings, meetings and more meetings, but the excitement over the first video call between Toronto and the UK made it all worthwhile. We knew this was what we had set out to do.
And Free the Children tells us that the technology has already begun revolutionizing the way its offices operate. From training, to interviews, to team meetings; the technology has drastically reduced travel costs and helped build camaraderie amongst colleagues spread across the globe. And perhaps the most transformative benefit has been the change in the delivery of programming to clients and stakeholders globally, helping Free the Children expand and multiply the impact of its inspirational work.
I’m not sure who gained more from this partnership. I can tell you that this project has been a great source of pride for me, and the entire team that had the privilege to lead this initiative. But this isn’t the end of this story, either. We continue to value our connection with Free the Children and hope to soon report on our next adventure together!