You are on page 1of 8

Public Benefit Investment Partner: Community Voice Mail The partnership between Cisco® and Community Voice Mail

(CVM) demonstrates how a strategic investment of cash, products, and expertise can transform people’s lives in powerful ways and increase their access to basic needs and economic opportunities. Background Community Voice Mail was established in Seattle in 1991 as the result of a simple idea with life-changing potential. The mission of Community Voice Mail is to provide free, personalized 24-hour voicemail numbers to people in crisis and transition—connecting them to jobs, housing, and hope. This service can also be used to seek refuge from domestic abuse, connect to social services and medical care, and stay in touch with family and friends. In 1992, Community Voice Mail presented this idea to Active Voice to request assistance. Recognizing the effectiveness of this simple solution to combat the complex and pervasive problem of poverty and homelessness, Active Voice donated a voicemail system to support their mission. Community Voice Mail was awarded a US$100,000 cash grant from the Ford Foundation and Harvard University in 1993 to replicate their innovative program in other communities. Although this increased CVM’s distribution capabilities and the number of users who could benefit from their free voicemail service, it also introduced the challenge of a decentralized network with multiple servers, administrative needs at each location, and associated operating costs. Partnership After Cisco acquired Active Voice, a group of employees who were volunteering at CVM contacted the Cisco Foundation to request a grant on behalf of Community Voice Mail. One of the volunteers,

Cisco andCVM can best address these issues by combining CVMprograms with Cisco technologies.” —Shannon Terry. as well as equipment and office space to help extend CVM services to the 50 most populated cities in the United States. was instrumental in demonstrating the value of the transformative solution provided by CVM.Kevin Chesnut. At the onset of the Cisco and Community Voice Mail partnership in 2003. and the Cisco Foundation awarded a grant of US$2. but homelessness anddisenfranchisement are a continual problem. Senior Network Administrator. Community Voice Mail .5 million over five years. more than 40 Cisco employees volunteered their time and expertise to assist with product development and the “Technology is changing daily.




Page 2 of 2 implementation of new technologies. nationwide distribution model for reduced operating costs. All rights reserved.‖ explains Tim Fujita-Yuhas. Inc. To accomplish this objective. This document is Cisco Public Information. Cisco employees worked directly with CVM personnel to customize the Cisco Unity voicemail product to meet the specific needs of users. ―Although CVM had been successful with many regional system deployments. and created a centralized.Customer Case Study All contents are Copyright © 1992–2007 Cisco Systems. Cisco Unity™ Product Manager. and greater . we saw the possibility of providing a more scalable solution by centralizing the voice messaging service. enhanced functionality.

―Our partnership is propelled by the fact that it’s such an obvious win for us both that it makes sense.000voicemail boxes in the wake of Hurricane Katrina for reliefagencies to distribute among displaced persons. Community Voice Mail and Cisco received an award for Outstanding Contribution to the Community from the Washington Software Association (WSA). or ensuring their personal safety.000 per site. In 2004. finding housing. and work to incorporate their needs into new product releases.000 individuals have benefited from the Community Voice Mail service. provide .‖ Results By using Cisco technology and expertise to replace more than 30 site-based voicemail servers witha scalable.efficiency. ―One of the most rewarding aspects of the partnership is when we successfully upgrade the Cisco Unity product to accommodate CVM’s requests. for a savings of nearly US$500.‖ says Isabelle Kuhlmeyer. in recognition of the many improvements made to CVM’s infrastructure and their expanded service capabilities. and more than 2100 nonprofit agencies have distributed CVM contact numbers to their clients.‖ says Ed Masters. more than 165. ―We meet with the CVM team on a monthly basis to discuss the types of features they’d like. receiving medical treatment. Cisco Unity Program Manager. The majority of beneficiaries who receive free contact numbers successfully achieve their goals of securing work. Cisco Unity Engineering Director. Since the partnership began. which aims to overcome the cycle of poverty and dependence through partnerships that encourage self-sufficiency. The updated system also enabled CVM to provide 80. This partnership supports Cisco’s social investment strategy. Community Voice Mail has been able to cut costs by an estimatedUS$13.000 per year. centralized system.

and help individuals enter the economic mainstrea .access to basic human needs.