Making Education the Answer
In 2000 Cisco helped found Making Education the Answer (META), a Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to providing mentorship and scholarships to Hispanic youth. “We noticed that too many Hispanic kids in Los Angeles either weren’t finishing high school or weren’t going on to college,” says Cisco. “And when people don’t get an education or learn a craft, you end up with a lot of people without a purpose.” Since then META has given out close to $350,000 in scholarships and provided mentoring and role models to urban students, and Cisco continues to serve as a Co-Chair of the non-profit.
On the opposite coast, one of Cisco’s causes provides opportunities for a different group in need of them: formerly incarcerated adults. Refoundry, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that Cisco co-founded, employs former convicts to create one-of-a-kind furniture using discarded wood from urban construction and demolition projects. Upcycling these materials keeps them out of the landfill, while providing much-needed training and work opportunities for some of the 700,000 people who are released from incarceration each year. The lack of employment options for the formerly incarcerated is one reason that 75% wind up back in the justice system within three years of release. Refoundry is helping address this problem, and the result is hand-crafted, beautifully distinctive furniture which can be purchased at the Brooklyn Flea.
“My goal is that through our non-profits we can help people find their purpose,” says Cisco. “Supporting important causes is also a way to remind people that making money is great and being successful is great, but you cannot ignore what’s going on in your community, you have to participate.”