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Oracle Celebrates Focus on Community Initiative

The holiday season invites us to give of ourselves and to share our good fortune, not only with our nearest and dearest, but also with our community, and especially with those whose spirits may need lifting. Focus on Community, formerly Season of Sharing, is the annual Oracle Volunteering initiative that encourages us to strengthen our communities by supporting individuals and families in need. As 2018 drew to a close, Oracle employees around the world stepped up to do just that – they collaborated with nonprofits to do projects that warmed hearts, fulfilled wishes, and gave strength and hope. Oracle Volunteers executed more than 400 projects--from donating groceries, toys, and clothing and serving meals to organizing holiday parties for hospitalized children and executing massive gift packing operations. They gave generously of their time, their resources, and themselves. Here are some highlights from around the world: Asia Pacific India In Bangalore, Oracle Volunteers organized an art camp and picnic for children with disabilities, collected and delivered supplies to seniors in a nursing home, and planned a holiday party for children with cancer. In Pune, Mumbai, and Bangalore, Oracle Volunteers organized and participated in blood drives. China In Beijing, Oracle Volunteers took homeless youth to visit the China Science and Technology Museum, helped children engage with exhibits, and shared their knowledge and passion for science and technology. Oracle Volunteers also organized a project to clean up trash around Purple Mountain. Japan In Tokyo, Oracle Volunteers packed and sorted food with Second Harvest Japan, prepared meals for students in the Learning for All program, and laced up their sneakers to participate in the 10K Race for the Cure, raising awareness of breast cancer. Philippines In Manila, Oracle Volunteers spent a day at Chosen Children, a home for kids with physical and developmental disabilities. Volunteers organized games, told stories, and performed a magic show to entertain children. Malaysia In Kuala Lumpur, Oracle Volunteers tutored children in reading English as part of HOPE Malaysia’s reading program, supported a coding class that taught students HTML, and sorted and distributed food to those in need. Europe, Middle East, and Africa Spain In Barcelona, Oracle Volunteers took part in “El Gran Recapte”, a large-scale initiative to collect and distribute food to people in need. In Madrid, Oracle Volunteers provided career advice to students from Junior Achievement Spain and tended to a community garden with Asociacion Albala. Ireland In Dublin, Oracle Volunteers decorated Riverbanks Homeless Center, which provides meals and supportive services to homeless individuals and those emerging from addiction, and created a new library for Community Afterschools Project (CASPr), a resource center providing a safe place for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Romania In Bucharest, Oracle Volunteers made holiday decorations alongside children with nonprofit SinVi, spent time reading stories and singing carols to seniors with Never Alone, and provided a warm meal to homeless individuals with Asociatia Sansa Ta. United Kingdom In Great Britain, Oracle Volunteers supported KidsOut by collecting and donating gifts to children from disadvantaged backgrounds, spent the day beautifying the grounds at Prior’s Court, a school for children with autism, and helped Sebastian’s Action Trust with the grand opening of their second home for critically-ill children. South Africa In Johannesburg, Oracle Volunteers taught life skills to 50 students during a wilderness hike and picnic lunch with Christel House School, which aims to transform the lives of children from impoverished backgrounds through education, nutrition, and social skills. Latin America Brazil In Sao Paulo, Oracle Volunteers continued their support of PROA, by purchasing and gifting new clothing that young people receiving job skills training can wear to their job interview. Oracle Volunteers also hosted students from Gerando Falcões at our office for a tour and a day-long mentoring session. Argentina In Buenos Aires, Oracle Volunteers fulfilled the wishes of students from Fundación Integrar, a nonprofit that supports youth in vulnerable situations to pursue higher education. Oracle Volunteers also dedicated a morning to making crafts alongside young adults from Taller Wilde, a nonprofit that provides job skills training for people with mental disabilities. Mexico In Mexico City, Oracle Volunteers ran multiple collection drives, gathering sweaters, blankets, and baby clothes for Unidos por la Montana, toys for Dignifica Tu Vida, and dog and cat food for Omeyocan. To close out Focus on Community, teams of volunteers delivered all they had collected. In Guadalajara, Oracle Volunteers added a fresh coat of paint to La Casa Down, a home that serves individuals with Down Syndrome, and collected and donated winter clothes for children living in an orphanage, bedspreads for a Maria Auxiliadora nursing home, and holiday treats and piñatas to Nariz Roja, which helps children with cancer. Chile In Santiago, Oracle Volunteers collected toys and clothes for the more than 40 children at Fundación Grada, then delivered the gifts, along with homemade snacks, and spent an afternoon playing games with the kids. Costa Rica In San Jose, Oracle Volunteers collected clothes, Christmas decorations, toys, appliances, and cookies to support Lifting Hands, a nonprofit dedicated to providing educational classes to kids from vulnerable backgrounds. North America Canada In Toronto, Oracle Volunteers collected items and packed 120 shoeboxes for The Shoebox Project, a nonprofit that provides gift boxes to women who are at-risk of homelessness. In Vancouver, Oracle Volunteers helped the Greater Vancouver Food Bank sort food to get it ready for distribution to community agencies. United States In Redwood Shores, San Mateo, Pleasanton, Santa Clara, and San Jose, Oracle Volunteers fulfilled the wishes of nearly 800 children and seniors by purchasing, donating, and delivering gifts to Family Giving Tree. Teams of Oracle Volunteers also logged hours in Family Giving Tree’s massive warehouse, sorting and wrapping gifts for distribution. In Austin, Oracle Volunteers supported the Boys & Girls Clubs’ holiday party for club members, setting up for the event, decorating cookies, and playing games; They also sorted and distributed food at Central Texas Food Bank’s mobile food pantry in East Austin. In Santa Monica, Oracle Volunteers participated in Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Monica’s Holiday Heroes event, in which volunteers shopped alongside youth who had received a gift card. They also delivered meals to homebound seniors with Meals on Wheels. In Auburn and Chicago, Oracle Volunteers honored our fallen military heroes by participating in Wreaths Across America ceremonies. In San Diego, Burlington, Redwood Shores, Morrisville, and Hillsboro, Oracle Volunteers collected hundreds of pounds of food that local food banks distributed to families over the holidays.  Thank you to everyone who led and participated in Oracle Volunteering projects during Focus on Community. Your generosity helped spread joy to those in need. To learn more about the Oracle Volunteering program, visit the Corporate Citizenship Report.   

The holiday season invites us to give of ourselves and to share our good fortune, not only with our nearest and dearest, but also with our community, and especially with those whose spirits may need...

These Students Are Teaching Silicon Valley a Few Things

What happens when you bring together super-smart high school students and Silicon Valley technology professionals? Innovative projects involving 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable technology, and much more. Such innovations were front and center at Oracle OpenWorld’s Innovation Studio, where students from Design Tech High School (d.tech) in Burlingame, California, demonstrated their projects alongside startups and global companies including GE Digital and Toyota. “We've designed a smart hospital room, with sensors that measure heart rate, temperature, light, even humidity,” says James, a d.tech senior, of his team's Hospital Ambiance project. “The room can use these measurements to react to the state of the patient and aid them in what might otherwise be a cold and emotionless place,” he said. To research the project, the students interviewed a UCSF Medical Center nurse, as well as two patients who had been to different hospitals. "I visited Stanford Hospitals where I got feedback from administrators, doctors, and nurses," says Avery, a d.tech sophomore who participated in the project.   Time to Explore and Invent The student projects on display at Oracle OpenWorld were conceived, designed, and prototyped during “Intersession,” an especially innovative part of the d.tech model. “The whole school pushes pause on the regular school day, four times a year, for two weeks at a time,” says Colleen Cassity, executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation and Oracle Corporate Citizenship, which supports the school.    During Intersession, students explore a wide range of subjects through classes provided by nonprofits, enterprises, and other professionals in the local community. “That’s one of the coolest things about d.tech: It invites the local community into students’ educational experience,” says Cassity. “Students learn technology from Oracle employees, photography from a local professional, financial literacy from employees at companies like Visa, and culinary skills from the likes of The Boneyard and Bon Appétit Management Company,” she said.    In Oracle Education Foundation classes, students learn coding, electrical engineering, and user-centered design from real practitioners. Foundation staff and Oracle volunteers help students design, build, code, and test prototypes of games, wearables, and IoT solutions. “These classes immerse students in design thinking,” says Cassity. “That’s one of the main things that brought the Oracle Education Foundation and d.tech together in the first place—we’re all design thinkers.” In fact, she says, “The ‘design’ in the name Design Tech High School refers to design thinking.”    In design thinking, “failure” is reframed as a golden opportunity to learn and improve. “Failure is important because it’s the best way to learn and go forward,” says student Avery. With design thinking, students learn to “design not for yourself but for the individual whose needs you want to meet,” he says.   Top projects from Oracle Education Foundation classes get showcased at Oracle OpenWorld. In addition to the hospital ambiance project described above, this year's projects included: A student wellness scanner that helps teachers prepare for class by collecting students’ attendance and assessing their mood. Project Roam, an IoT solution that helps connect staff and students throughout the school day. A water monitoring system that uses sensors to provide a clear picture of water quality in local wetlands. A pickpocket-proof purse, which is a patent-pending wearable solution. A 3D design for wrist and hand braces in which the Oracle Education Foundation teamed with 3D design company Carbon to give student access to next-generation 3D production technology. Competition robots engineered and presented by d.tech’s robotics team. “I’m really glad I got this opportunity,” says Ally, a d.tech junior, of her time at Oracle OpenWorld. “I like teaching adults. They seem really interested in what we’re doing, and I like showing them things that I think are cool.”   Students are not just learning to interact with adults, they are also seeing that they can build things that matter. Hanui, a d.tech junior, pointed to the work students are doing with Carbon. “They’re designing hand braces and finger splints and I was thinking that’s really cool because we have high schoolers working on projects that will improve people’s lives. I’m excited to see their projects get better and better.” “These students are developing creative confidence. They believe that the world can be a better place and they can be the ones who make it happen,” says Oracle’s Cassity. With design thinking, she says, “they have practiced a problem-solving approach over and over again and are confident that they can always design a solution.” In January 2018, Design Tech High School will move to a purpose-built facility on Oracle's headquarters campus in Redwood City, California. When it opens, d.tech will be the only public high school in the US to be located on a tech company's campus, while remaining autonomous. 

What happens when you bring together super-smart high school students and Silicon Valley technology professionals? Innovative projects involving 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable...

Oracle Volunteers Help d.tech Students Create Next-Gen Tools

By Monica Mehta A group of teens gather to create a student identification system for their new high school that checks students in by scanning their ID card. Using a Raspberry Pi computer and 3-D modeling, they build a real-life prototype, including a camera and touch screen so students can type in the number that correlates with their mood (1=bad, 10=excellent), signaling to teachers how they’re feeling as they begin the school day. The coach leading the class is an Oracle employee on staff with the Oracle Education Foundation and the teens are from Design Tech High School (d.tech), a Bay Area high school that specializes in design thinking. These two-week elective classes take place four times a year and are part of d.tech’s  Intersession program, in which students have the opportunity to learn about everything from cooking to coding, working with practitioners in those fields in their offices, kitchens, workshops, and studios. For the October Intersession, 14 Oracle Volunteers donated their time and talents to help Oracle Education Foundation staff lead three concurrent, 30-hour workshops—two on facility automation, using Raspberry Pi computers and peripherals such as cameras and sensors, and one on 3-D modeling and design, using 3-D printers and Autodesk Fusion 360 software—for 74 d.tech students. In each workshop, students identified a challenge and then designed, built, and coded a prototype solution using industry-standard tools alongside experts in the field. Learning While Teaching Oracle Applications Engineer Kayci Nguyen, who regularly volunteers with the Oracle Education Foundation, saw it as an opportunity to use her skills to help the next generation advance—especially girls. “Women in the field of technology are few and far between,” says Nguyen. “I want to help girls be interested in technology and think about it as a career.” Nguyen says volunteering also gave her something back. “You’re not only helping the student—you’re learning at the same time,” says Nguyen. “I’ve learned a lot about design thinking through volunteering with Oracle Education Foundation. It’s really helpful in your daily work life. Now I think about how I communicate with my coworkers in different groups. What’s their priority? I’ve learned to empathize with them, think from their perspective, and work together better.” This is the second Oracle Education Foundation workshop that Dennis Manalo, a program manager at Oracle Labs, has coached. He has a little more free time this year and is using that time to make a difference in his community. “I wanted to do something a little bit more than my day job,” says Manalo. “The three areas that Oracle Corporate Citizenship programs focus on—education, the environment, and community—are very valuable to me. Being actively involved through Oracle volunteering helps me understand and then advocate for these issues.” Another benefit of volunteering with Oracle Education Foundation is that coaches are able to see the real-life fruits of the students’ labors. In his first Intersession with the Oracle Education Foundation three years ago, d.tech junior Alex Lederman built a device with a Raspberry Pi computer that could detect whether a person was slouching and gently signal him or her to straighten up. Lederman says he has a lot of great ideas, and Oracle Volunteers help him direct those ideas into reality. “The coaches are professionals, so their feedback is super valuable to me,” says Lederman. “At school, our teachers are pushing us to come up with our own ideas, and the sky is the limit. In Oracle Education Foundation workshops, the sky is the limit too, but Oracle Volunteers help us focus on what is plausible and can actually be built.” It Takes a Village d.tech is currently located in Burlingame, California. Next year, the high school will relocate to a purpose-built facility at 275 Oracle Parkway in Redwood Shores, California, becoming the first fully autonomous public high school in the United States to be located on a tech company’s campus. Oracle is providing the land and building the new facility—a 64,000-square-foot, LEED-certified school for 550 students and 30 faculty members. “Here’s a school that is inviting the community into students’ educational experience, which is extraordinarily rare. Frankly, we think there’s a little bit of genius in that,” says Colleen Cassity, executive director of the Oracle Education Foundation, Oracle Volunteers, and Oracle Giving. “We always say it takes a village to raise a child, but I don’t think too many children today have that experience, and this is a new embodiment of that idea in a very twenty-first-century way.” d.tech’s mission is to develop students who believe that the world can be a better place and that they can be the ones to make it happen. The Oracle Education Foundation program supports d.tech’s goals by empowering students with the creative confidence to engage with today’s technologies to design tomorrow’s innovations. The students leave the Oracle Education Foundation’s two-week workshops one step closer to solving real-world design challenges through design thinking and technology. Oracle employees can volunteer as many as 104 work hours per year with the Oracle Education Foundation, with no impact in their vacation or leave. Every year, tens of thousands of Oracle Volunteers engage with nonprofit organizations all over the world, working in the areas of education, environment, and community. d.tech is itself a nonprofit organization, and having the school at Oracle headquarters will give Oracle employees even more opportunities to volunteer with d.tech and work with the students. “The value to Oracle employees of having this experience is manifold,” says Cassity. “They have an opportunity to make a very real, positive impact on young people’s lives. Also, we train our employees in user-centered design and design thinking to help them teach students, and many of them tell us it transforms the way they work, and even how they think about their home life. It’s a serious commitment to coach a 30-hour workshop, but they come out of it feeling refreshed and energized.” 

By Monica Mehta A group of teens gather to create a student identification system for their new high school that checks students in by scanning their ID card. Using a Raspberry Pi computer and...

d.tech Teens Show Off Innovations You’ll Want to Buy

What do you get when you give high school students time, space, expert advice, and a lot of cool technology? Judging by the demos on display at the Design Realization Garage (DRG) at Oracle OpenWorld 2016, a lot of innovation from some very engaged teens. Sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation, the DRG showcased innovative prototypes made by students at Design Tech High School (d.tech), a public charter school for which Oracle is building a home on its Redwood Shores, California, campus. Oracle CEO Safra Catz stopped by the DRG to view projects, which arose from the series of two-week workshops provided by the Oracle Education Foundation. The students worked with Oracle volunteers to learn coding, electrical engineering, and design thinking before going hands-on to build prototypes as part of a design challenge. “With a student-teacher ratio of about 4 to 1, the workshops let students really immerse themselves deeply in the learning experience,” said Colleen Cassity, Oracle Education Foundation executive director. Secure Your Pocketbook Emily and Jolene, d.tech juniors, teamed up in a Wearable Tech workshop to design a prototype for a pick-proof purse. “We were introduced to all sorts of cool things that we didn’t know existed,” said Emily at her team’s DRG demo. The device works via an RFID tag reader embedded in a ring, which deactivates the security system when touched to a chip on the purse. Users can then unzip the purse to access whatever they need; when the purse is zipped up again, the alarm activates after 10 seconds. Unauthorized opening of the purse both triggers an alarm and makes the ring vibrate. Call for Help—Discreetly Another group of students designed a device that allows people to quietly sound the alarm if they find themselves in an unsafe situation. Users push a button on the device, which can be worn like jewelry, to send a signal to a linked app on their smart phone. That app then sends an “I need help” message, including GPS location data, to predesignated contacts. “The idea is that it’s discreet, so you don’t have to obviously make a grab for your phone,” said Jaya, a sophomore at the school. The group, which did everything from build the app to solder the sensor into the ring, has continued to refine the concept in hopes of turning it from prototype to viable product. Analyze the Competition Oracle also extends support to afterschool classes such as the school’s 42-member robotics team, which advanced last year to the divisional quarterfinals at the world championship in St. Louis. Oracle Education Foundation workshops helped the team learn how to use data analytics to analyze other teams’ weaknesses and strengths, as well as to balance the capabilities of their own bot to maximize point potential. “Scouting is just as important here as it is in baseball,” said d.tech junior Nick. The group also worked with Oracle to learn skills ranging from design and construction to PR and fund-raising. The team raised more than $60,000 to cover the costs of building the bot as well as the entry fees to competitions. “It’s not just about the robot,” said Alex, a junior. “For example, we worked with rookie teams this off season to help them prepare. It’s a kind of pay it forward thing.” 

What do you get when you give high school students time, space, expert advice, and a lot of cool technology? Judging by the demos on display at the Design Realization Garage (DRG) at Oracle OpenWorld...

Oracle Offers New Home to Free Public High School

Something new and unusual is coming to Oracle headquarters. Oracle, together with its nonprofit organization, the Oracle Education Foundation (OEF), and nearly 500 members of the community broke ground today for the new home of Design Tech High School (d.tech). Design Tech High School is not your typical high school. It’s built on a design thinking model: “It’s our mission to develop students who believe that the world can be a better place, and that they can be the ones to make it happen,” explains Dr. Ken Montgomery, Design Tech’s executive director and founder. When classes begin for 550 students at the new facility in the 2017-2018 school year, d.tech will be the only public high school in the United States that’s located on a tech company’s campus, while remaining fully autonomous. It will also be the culmination of a multidecade endeavor by Oracle. In 2014, Oracle CEO Safra Catz challenged the Oracle Education Foundation with finding a way to engage employees in training a new kind of student. Yet, the idea to prepare students to meet modern challenges—and build a pipeline for future employees—started even before then. “Seventeen years ago, Larry Ellison told me that he’d love to have a school where students learn to think,” says Catz. “Our support of d.tech reflects Larry’s vision for a unique high school founded on principles we believe in: innovation, creativity, problem-solving, and design-thinking. We couldn’t be more excited to build this school on our campus and to see the positive impact it will undoubtedly have on the students, teachers, Oracle employees, the Bay Area community, and beyond.” The time is certainly right to try a new approach to education, says Montgomery, to arm students with strong creativity and collaboration skills that will help them in today’s modern economy. “We’re saying if we can build in students the skills  and mindsets  to go out there and solve real problems, then they can immediately have a positive impact on society.” At d.tech, temporarily located in a San Mateo County Office of Education building in Burlingame, California, students do things differently in order to have that desired impact. They build their own schedules, participate in a design lab, and have access to a makerspace called the Design Realization Garage, an homage to the many Silicon Valley companies that started in garages and to the industrial space that d.tech has occupied since 2015. The students also do things differently by participating in quarterly two-week intercession periods, when students learn from professionals. For example, a team of Oracle Volunteers work with students on projects at the intersection of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) disciplines. Projects include coding, electrical engineering, data visualization, the Internet of Things, and more. Students have put design thinking to work on the school facility itself. When the first students walk into their new 64,000 square-foot home next fall, they will walk through a building that they—along with their parents, d.tech staff, DES Architects + Engineers, Oracle, and the OEF—dreamed up for themselves.  At Oracle OpenWorld, taking place in San Francisco from September 18-22, OEF will present a Design Realization Garage where d.tech students will show innovative prototypes developed in OEF workshops, such as a pickpocket-proof handbag, which uses an RFID tag on a ring that flashes bright red and buzzes if anyone other than the purse’s owner reaches in. Students and OEF staff will also engage Oracle OpenWorld attendees in coding, making, and design thinking, using open-source hardware such as Arduino and tools such as 3-D printers.  The new building may be a school year away, but the partnership between Oracle, the Oracle Education Foundation, and d.tech is already reaping rewards. “It's not only the students that have the cool experiences, but our employees, too,” Colleen Cassity, executive director of the OEF, says of the 57 Oracle Volunteers who have worked with d.tech students in the Foundation’s program. “They feel like they are truly paying it forward to the next generation in terms of sharing their skills. Some of the things that the students want to prototype are unlike anything any of us have ever thought of before.” Find more on Oracle.com: Read the press release Design Tech High School at Oracle

Something new and unusual is coming to Oracle headquarters. Oracle, together with its nonprofit organization, the Oracle Education Foundation (OEF), and nearly 500 members of the community broke...

Oracle Employees Accelerate Shoe Drive

Oracle employees are stepping on it when it comes to making sure that kids have shoes for the school year. The initiative was kicked off by Rachel Wong, an Oracle employee who works at our Redwood Shores campus. Wong started by volunteering her time at a local charity, My New Red Shoes, and then reached out to the Oracle community to join the cause. My New Red Shoes provides homeless children in the Bay Area and Portland, Oregon with new donated shoes for the school year. "The goal is to help close the gap and increase a child's motivation," Wong says. "Much of the time, homeless children have difficulty focusing on school when they don’t have the proper shoes or clothes. My New Red Shoes packages the donated shoes in a homemade baggie, along with a $50 Old Navy gift card for each child to get a new set of clothes to start on their first day of school." Wong enlisted the help of her manager and sent an email to the rest of her department asking for people to join in. "Help our neighbor, My New Red Shoes reach their 10,000 shoes year end goal for 2016! We are about 6,000 away and need to reach 800 shoes by end of March! "I hope that we can have team members help join us in this great mission and help improve a child’s life a little bit at a time every day! #CorporationsGiveBack," her email read. Through the Oracle Volunteers program, Wong and employees like her have been supporting My New Red Shoes for almost two years. Oracle Volunteers projects have included activities like sorting shoes, packing bags with shoes, and creating gift cards. Employees can also drop off new shoes in red boxes installed in the Oracle Plaza building. You can check out the site, or if you’re so inclined, go to the Amazon Wish List to get shoes delivered right to their office. As Wong closed the note, "thanks for your warm sole."

Oracle employees are stepping on it when it comes to making sure that kids have shoes for the school year. The initiative was kicked off by Rachel Wong, an Oracle employee who works at our Redwood...