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Social Investment Areas

Crucial funding for vital needs

At Cisco, we make social investments in three areas where we believe our technology and our people can make the biggest impact—education, economic empowerment, and crisis response, the last of which incorporates shelter, water, food, and disaster relief. Together, these investment areas help people overcome barriers of poverty and inequality, and make a lasting difference by fostering strong global communities.


Our strategy is to inclusively invest in technology-based solutions that increase equitable access to education while improving student performance, engagement, and career exploration. We support K-12 solutions that emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as well as literacy. We also consider programs that teach environmental sustainability, eliminate barriers to accessing climate change education, and invite student engagement globally to positively affect the environment.

What we look for:

  • Innovative early grade solutions using the internet and technology to bridge the barriers preventing access to education for underserved students globally.
  • Solutions that positively affect student attendance, attitudes, and behavior while inspiring action by students to improve learning outcomes, whether they participate in person, online, or in blended learning environments. 
  • Solutions with high potential to replicate and scale globally, thereby increasing the availability of evidence-based solutions that support student-centricity, teacher capacity in the classroom, and increased parental participation to help students learn and develop.

Note that Cisco does not provide direct funding to nonprofits or schools for the following:

  • Sustaining existing programs, interventions, or solutions.
  • Geographic replication through sponsorships.
  • Purchasing 3rd party technology solutions, including, but not limited to, learning management, customer relationship management, or collaboration technologies.
  • Paying on-going operational expenses for teachers/administrators/aids salaries, purchasing supplies, paying student tuition, funding scholarship programs, purchasing equipment (i.e. hardware and/or software), or recurring utilities.

Learn more about our community partners and CSR programs in education.

Economic empowerment

Our strategy is to invest in early stage, tech-enabled solutions that provide equitable access to the knowledge, skills, and resources that people need to support themselves and their families toward resilience, independence, and economic security.

Our goal is to support solutions that benefit individuals and families, and that contribute to local community growth and economic development in a sustainable economy.

We target our support in three interconnected areas:

  1. Skills development to help job seekers secure dignified employment and long-term career pathways in technology or other sectors, including environmental sustainability/green jobs.
  2. Inclusive entrepreneurship with small businesses as engines of local growth as well as high growth potential start-ups as large-scale job creators nationally and internationally, in technology or other sectors, including environment sustainability/green businesses.
  3. Banking the unbanked through relevant and affordable financial products and capacity building services.

Learn more about our community partners and CSR programs that support economic empowerment.

Cisco Crisis Response

We seek to help overcome the cycle of poverty and dependence and achieve a more sustainable future through strategic investments. We back organizations that successfully address critical needs of underserved communities, because those who have their basic needs met are better equipped to learn and thrive.

What we look for:

  • Innovative solutions that increase the capacity of grantees to deliver their products and services more effectively and efficiently
  • Design and implementation of web-based tools that increase the availability of, or improve access to, products and services that are necessary for people to survive and thrive
  • Programs that increase access to clean water, food, shelter, or disaster relief and promote a more sustainable future for all

Note: By policy, relief campaigns respond to significant natural disaster and humanitarian crises as opposed to those caused by human conflict. Also by policy, our investments in this area do not include healthcare solutions.

Learn more about our community partners and CSR programs that support crisis response.

Explore our grant programs

Global Impact Cash Grant Program

Funding to multiply the tech-fueled impact of organizations with national or multinational operations.

India Cash Grant Program

Funding for programs that serve the underserved in India by leveraging technology.

Bay Area Community Impact Grant Program

Funding to support Bay Area programs within a 50-mile radius of Cisco’s San Jose, California headquarters.

Product Grant Program

We donate Cisco’s best-in-class networking technology to help nonprofits make innovative use of the Internet.