Illustration: overview diagram of social issues starting with basic human needs

Corporate social investments can help sow the seeds of prosperity anywhere in the world, but especially in those places where the needs are greatest. People prosper when their basic needs have been met and they are free to reach their full potential, increasing their own well-being and that of their family and community. Food, shelter, and health are essential to human life. But knowledge is the key to prosperity in the modern world, and the catalyst for acquiring that knowledge is education.

Cisco takes a results-oriented approach to corporate social responsibility (CSR) by compiling a strong portfolio of social investments and continually assessing how well they perform. Our investment model focuses on education as a catalyst for social progress, but we also invest in programs that offer sustenance and support to people in need. We look for CSR investments that offer a good return by having a measurable impact on lives and society, and that promise to grow and sustain themselves over time through community involvement.

Innovation is central to Cisco’s business approach, whether in product development, supply chain management, sales and marketing, or CSR. We are always looking for new and better ways to apply our core competencies to build healthier, more productive, and more sustainable communities, enabling them to play a stronger role in promoting prosperity throughout the global community.

  • Partnerships are invaluable for social goals as well as business goals. Cisco has gained a global reputation for seamlessly integrating supply chain partners into our business, and we have applied this talent for successful partnering to the CSR arena. Using public-private partnerships, Cisco has succeeded in bringing innovative ideas and practiced expertise together to address global challenges and, as a result, improve outcomes for individuals and communities.
  • We apply the same original thinking and collaborative spirit that goes into our products and business processes to the challenges that our social investments are working to address. In collaboration with established institutions and agencies, we look to develop breakthrough approaches based on 21st century technologies and techniques.
  • We not only invest, we engage. Our employees bring their own intelligence, business acumen, and socially responsible attitudes to the programs that we initiate and incubate. They work side by side with our partners to brainstorm, coach, and then apply their world-class competencies to local initiatives.
  • Cisco recognizes that everyone’s future prosperity and well-being depends on a healthy planet. Consequently, many of the CSR initiatives both within and outside the company promote and practice environmental sustainability.
  • We seek to apply a keen business focus to the CSR initiatives we undertake. We take care to accurately monitor and measure results, so we can implement midcourse corrections that result in continuous improvement over time. When a project proves to be well established and self-sufficient, we shift resources to new endeavors.


Education: Passport to Prosperity

Cisco’s social investment strategy focuses on empowering people with knowledge, specifically the practical skills that help them improve their standard of living and let them contribute more fully to their local communities and the global economy. Find out how Cisco is using 21st century education principles and techniques to transform the information and communications technology (ICT) learning experience in classrooms and computer laboratories worldwide.

Our CSR educational initiatives include:


Meeting a Range of Human Needs

Prosperity can be impeded by socioeconomic problems ranging from privation and poverty to the effects of natural disasters and other regional and local calamities. Read about the many ways that Cisco employees use their expertise and skills to help people around the world meet their needs for physical well-being, safety, and social connections.

Our CSR initiatives in the human needs area include:


Cisco recognizes the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which call for timely and quantifiable progress in eradicating poverty, achieving universal education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating disease, ensuring environmental sustainability, and building global partnerships for development. Cisco co-funded the MDG Monitor MDG Monitor, a web application that tracks real-time progress toward the MDGs in a number of categories.


Cisco Foundation Grants

The Cisco Foundation supports Cisco’s efforts to team with nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations around the world to develop public investment programs that improve the organization’s ability to deliver services that address basic human needs, education, and economic opportunities. We focus this work on underserved communities and look for solutions that harness the power of the Internet and communications technology.


Cisco Financial Contributions over Five Years

Donations (in millions) FY04 FY05 FY06 FY07 FY08

Foundation total (corporatewide)






In-kind total (corporatewide product and people)






Cash total (Foundation cash and corporatewide cash)






Corporatewide giving total





Funds from Cisco to Cisco Foundation 0 0 26.8 23.2 0

Contributions as a percentage of earnings before income tax (EBIT) from previous year






The corporatewide giving totals shown above for FY06 and FY07 include funds given to the Cisco Foundation by Cisco. The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) does not count this amount in its annual giving report. CECP is the only international forum of business CEOs and chairpersons pursuing a mission focused exclusively on corporate philanthropy.

To help ensure that all Cisco Foundation and Cisco corporate grants are aligned with Cisco’s CSR vision, and that we have exercised due diligence regarding the strategic alignment of recipients with our grant-making criteria, in FY08 we implemented a more consistent, rigorous, and thorough process for evaluating organizations through Universal Giving Corporate. New Browser Window. We now conduct media/reputation searches and include vetting of product grants in addition to vetting all gift-matching validation requests and cash grant requests. After this initial due diligence step is performed, grant proposals may follow one of two approval paths, depending on the source of funding.

For Cisco Foundation grants, all grant recommendations from program officers are vetted for conflicts of interest and self-dealing. The recommendations are reviewed and approved by a grants committee, then approved by the executive director of the Cisco Foundation. Once this process is complete, the grant request goes to the Cisco Foundation board for final approval.

Cisco corporate grants are also screened for alignment with our grant criteria and vetted for conflicts of interest before they are recommended for review and approval by the director of our Public Benefit Investment group or another Cisco director. After due diligence has been completed on the grant recommendation, and depending on the amount of the request, the grant must then be approved by another Cisco executive with appropriate fiscal authority.

Financial information about the Foundation is available on Form 990-PF Cisco Foundation Form 990-PF filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

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