Scientific-Atlanta has history of philanthropy

LAWRENCEVILLE - For years, Scientific-Atlanta Inc. has pledged money to get more school kids interested in engineering.

The company helped fund the expansion of college campuses in Lawrenceville and Atlanta.

Its dollars are helping to build a local nonprofit hospital and improve a local Boys and Girls Club.

Scientific Atlanta is based in Lawrenceville. Its executives sit on the boards of the nonprofit hospital and the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, giving them first-hand knowledge of the challenges different organizations face.

But now that Scientific Atlanta is being acquired by San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc., it raises a question: Can a California company understand the needs of a Gwinnett charity or nonprofit?

"Cisco has a culture much like ours, and that includes a history of community involvement," said Robert McIntyre, Scientific-Atlanta's chief technical officer.

Scientific-Atlanta has spread its support.

It gave $150,000 to build the new Gwinnett Medical Center Duluth. The hospital is owned and operated by nonprofit Gwinnett Health System.

John Riddle, the nonprofit's vice president of marketing and development, said Scientific-Atlanta has been a stalwart contributor for years.

"It often takes a company like theirs to step up and be the first to say OK, here's what we are going to do to help," Riddle said. "They take the lead, then others are compelled to join the effort."

Scientific-Atlanta has poured money into education - a top priority.

Renee Bird Lewis, Scientific Atlanta community relations manager, said the company wants kids to excel in math and science, hoping to lure more engineers into the high-tech field.

The company is a $60,000 sponsor of an upcoming robotics competition at the Gwinnett arena in Duluth.

Scientific-Atlanta gave Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville $1 million to build the Busbee Center, where the leaders of high-tech firms hold seminars each month.

The company, whose founders are Georgia Tech grads, gave their alma mater $1 million for its Molecular Science and Engineering Building.

Scientific-Atlanta also raised $415,000 so far this year for nonprofits, including juvenile diabetes research and the Relay for Life, which raises money to battle cancer.

Cisco appears to have the same commitment, Lewis said.

"I think Scientific-Atlanta and Cisco share similar philosophies," she said. "I know I've been impressed with their community investment programs."