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Product Grant Program

Product Grant Program

Cisco welcomes applications for the Product Grant Program from community partners around the world who share our vision and offer an innovative approach to a critical social challenge.

Program overview

Cisco donates networking technology to qualified nonprofit organizations to help them realize significant gains in productivity, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Together, we build public benefit programs that make innovative use of the Internet and communications technology and have a measurable impact.

The Cisco Product Grant Program focuses on the same social investment areas as our cash grants: critical human needs, access to education, and economic empowerment.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements

Cisco’s Product Grant Program accepts applications year-round from qualified charitable organizations to help them realize significant gains in productivity, scalability, and cost-efficiency. Before applying, nonprofits can determine their eligibility by reviewing the requirements below and grant giving policies.

We do not grant to schools, libraries, museums or hospitals.

Product grants to small organizations with one to several sites or requests under US$25,000 list price are fulfilled by our partner TechSoup.

Organizational requirements:

  • Organizations within the United States (U.S.) must be recognized by the IRS as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and classified by the IRS as a public charity
  • Organizations outside the United States (U.S.) must provide information and documents to determine whether the organization is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity
  • Organizations must serve the community at large
  • Organizations and programs must focus on at least one of our social investment areas: access to education, economic empowerment, or critical human needs
  • An organization's overhead is not to exceed 25%. The maximum request amount for first-time Customized Connectivity Grant recipients is US$50,000 (list price) of equipment
  • If you require equipment above the TechSoup limit or if the equipment you require is not offered, then you may apply for a Customized Connectivity Grant

Ineligible programs and/or activities

All applications must be completed using our online application form. Cisco will not consider incomplete proposals or paper-based applications. Proposals in the following areas are not eligible for Product Grants:

  • Programs or organizations that re-grant or loan funds
  • Programs which require exposure, adherence to, or conversion to any religious doctrine in order to be a beneficiary of the program (Note: A direct service program run by a faith-based organization may be eligible. See our grant giving policies.)
  • Individuals are not eligible. (Program is open to organizations only)
  • Start-up/new nonprofits (i.e. those with less than one year of successful operations)
  • Multi-year grants
  • Proposals in combination or in support of a product sale
  • Schools & scholarships:
    • Public schools or school systems
    • Private schools
    • Charter schools
    • School foundations
    • Booster clubs or other fundraising organizations affiliated with particular school(s)
    • Colleges/universities
    • Scholarships/stipend programs of any kind
  • Libraries
  • Museums
  • Hospitals, health care centers, or community clinics

Policy on board review and approval

Cisco requires applicants to certify that the chairperson or at least one officer of the organization's Board of Directors has reviewed the grant proposal and that the organization's board is aware of the application and supports its submission. Cisco also requires applicants to certify the accuracy of the proposal and to confirm that the organization complies with the policies stated on this web site.

Policy on reviews of accuracy/compliance

All applicants are subject to reviews of their representations in their grant applications, their compliance with the policies stated above, and, if applicable, their adherence to the terms of the grant contract. If such a review reveals significant inaccuracies or violations of the policies stated above, or if an organization does not cooperate with the review, the organization may be required to return any granted assets and forfeit future funding eligibility.

Written grant contract

Grantee organizations are required to sign a donation agreement electronically before donations can be delivered.

Reporting and performance tracking

Cisco looks for grant proposals in which concrete measures of success can be used to assess performance. Organizations that receive a product grant will be required to report back on their project over the life of the grant by means of online surveys.  Meaningful participation in this process is a requirement for continued funding eligibility.

Cisco grant giving policies

In addition, organizations must adhere to Cisco policies related to non-discrimination, religious proselytizing, non-support of violence and terrorism, advocacy, lobbying, and other political activities and other areas listed in grant giving policies.


Program Guidelines

Program guidelines

Following are the complete program guidelines.

Quarterly review schedule

We accept proposals for Customized Connectivity Grants on an ongoing, year-round basis. However, grants are reviewed on a quarterly cycle, and a proposal must be submitted within the first month of a quarter to be considered for that funding cycle. Applicants should plan at least three months for grant review plus additional time for product shipments.

Q1: August – October
Q2: November – January
Q3: February – April
Q4: May – July

Grant amounts

The maximum request amount for first-time grant recipients is US$50,000 (list price) of equipment. Requests under US$25,000 are reviewed and fulfilled by our partner TechSoup. If you require equipment above the TechSoup limit or if the equipment you require is not offered, then you may apply for a Customized Connectivity Grant.

Innovative use of internet and communications technology

Ideal grantees take full advantage of Cisco's rich asset mix and end-to-end strategic thinking, using technology and ingenuity to bring about order-of-magnitude improvements. We look for how organizations will use technology to better address their mission or the mission of other nonprofits; expand their service to more clients or provide additional services at a similar costs; provide technology access to underserved populations or nonprofits who do.

Equipment information:

  • Organizations are responsible for selecting appropriate Cisco products; the product grant team may provide limited assistance
  • Only Cisco manufactured and branded equipment is supported via this program
  • Small Business or Home Networking equipment, Webex and similar subscription services are not available as Product Grants
  • Advanced technologies such as  Voice over IP, advanced security, or high end UCS servers require a Cisco-certified individual to install and maintain them. Cisco will not grant funds to pay for installation or design (To find a Cisco Certified Partner, go to the partner locator, click Advanced Search, select "IP Communications" or "IP Communications Express" under Technology Specialization.)
  • As a green company, Cisco designed the Product Grant Program as a closed loop system. Donated Cisco products that are no longer useful or have reached their end of life must be returned through Cisco product recycling

Registration, approval, product delivery:

  • Registration: Notification that Cisco received your application will be sent via email within 72 hours. Incomplete applications will be returned to you
  • Approval: Cisco will notify you by the end of the quarter of either approval or denial
  • Product delivery: Delivery is bound to lead times of manufacturing. In most cases, products will be delivered within 90 days of date of approval. All product donations are subject to change or delay without notice
  • Expediting of orders: The Product Grant Program cannot expedite order requests for equipment. Please keep this in mind when considering your grant submission, fulfillment and deployment timeline

Maintenance and support

Cisco Product Grant Program includes five free years of Cisco's Smart Net support service or similar. For questions related to accessing your Smart Net support, please review the FAQ below.

Metrics and measurement for successful grant proposals

Cisco gives highest priority to proposals that clearly articulate the planned impact of their efforts, as well as the metrics by which the impact is measured.

Operational success: How operations would improve as a result of the grant. The data should be expressed as projected cost savings or increased revenue ($) to demonstrate efficiency and productivity gains in your operations.

Examples:

  • A decrease in the inputs needed for your operations to deliver the same or higher level of service. Examples: hours needed to perform routine tasks; personnel costs, including FTE wages; consulting fees; or other expenditures relevant to your organization
  • An increase in the outputs of your organization with the same or lower amount of inputs. Examples: the number of clients served, units of service delivered, or a broadening of geographic scope

Mission success: How your organization can increase its reach and impact as a result of the grant.

Examples:

  • An increase in the number of services you provide to your existing customers, which was constrained due to the lack of technological capacity. This could be a new program or the expansion of an existing program for that population
  • An increase in the types of customers that you serve, which could not be done without better or new equipment, such as extending an existing program to underserved clientele
  • An increase in the quality of your services, which was suboptimal due to aging or unreliable equipment. You should be able to quantify the potential scale of improvement as a result of the grant

Technology success: Benefits derived from the equipment. Some indicators would include enhanced security, newfound scalability, or improved reliability of communications within your organization, with partners or other stakeholders. You can also describe related technological enhancements as a result of the grant.

In general, the larger the requested grant amount, the more measurements you will need to provide.

Sales restrictions for product grants

Product Grants cannot be given to organizations that have purchased Cisco equipment within the last six months, or who plan to purchase Cisco equipment within the next six months.


Application Process

Application process

Product grant applications are accepted year round. Applications for less than US$25,000 are managed by our partner TechSoup. If you require equipment above the TechSoup limit or if the equipment you require is not offered, you may apply for a Customized Connectivity Grant.

Small grant application process

Smaller nonprofits with a request for standard equipment, under US$25,000 list price, are managed by our partners:

Customized Connectivity Grant process in the United States

If you require equipment above the TechSoup limit or equipment that is not offered via the Techsoup  program, please  proceed with the online Customized Connectivity Grant Application Process. For applications outside the US, we highly encourage you to contact us first.

Step 1: Eligibility quiz

The eligibility quiz will help you determine whether your organization and program are aligned with Cisco's mission, strategic approach, and objectives for grant support. Take the eligibility quiz.

Step 2: Online application

Eligible organizations will be able to register and complete the online application form. This form requests detailed information about your organization, current and requested technology, network schematics support details, measuring impact, budget, and population served. Before completing the application, we recommend that you draft your answers using our sample application, and review eligibility, program guidelines, investment areas, and policies.

Customized Connectivity Grant process outside the United States

Customized Connectivity Grants are available to non-governmental organizations in many places worldwide. For various logistical reasons, we recommend you to contact us before you apply online so we can discuss the logistics details upfront.


Smart Net FAQ

Smart Net FAQ

Please note that these FAQs relate specifically to Cisco's Product Grant Program. For general Smart Net questions and inquiries, please visit Cisco's main Smart Net site.

How do I get support?

Once your Smart Net contract is activated, you will receive an email from the Cisco Service Contract Center (CSCC) that includes your new Smart Net Contract Number and useful links to information and to open a case with Cisco's Technical Assistance Center (TAC).

How do I open a case?

You may open a case online with a valid Cisco Connection Online (CCO) ID and password. Go to the Service Support Center to open a case or to browse the knowledge base of questions and answers. For more information, visit Training. To register and create a Cisco Connection Online account, go to Cisco.com Registration.

What do I do if I need support and I did not receive my contract number yet?

Until all of your equipment has shipped and your Smart Net contract is activated, you are entitled to Warranty Coverage.

What if I haven't received the email with contract number and instructions?

If you do not have your contract number and info, or if contract has not been activated, please contact us.

Can I look up my Cisco Smart Net contract details online?

Yes. Our Order Services site allows end users to view and request an update to their Smart Net contracts via opening a case.

What if the inventory covered by the contract does not match the donation?

If any details of your contract or site are incorrect, contact Order Services to update them. This includes a change to the contact person in your organization that manages these types of service contracts as well as the Install Site address, serial numbers. If you receive an RMA from Cisco to replace hardware, remove the old serial number that you returned and replace it with the new one you received.

It is best to open a case with the Cisco Contract Center to update your inventory, site address and serial numbers. Should they have issues, they will contact the Cisco Product Grant team for clarification.

What do I do when my Smart Net coverage from Cisco expires?

Cisco recommends that you purchase Cisco Smart Net coverage by contacting a Cisco Reseller of Smart Net service for a quote. To find a reseller in your area, use the partner locator.

What if I no longer use the equipment and therefore do not need to renew Smart Net?

When you received your donation from Cisco, you signed a receipt acknowledgment form and agreed to return equipment that is no longer used. To return your equipment, go to product recycling.

"Furthermore, organizations receiving product grants are not allowed to sell, exchange, or otherwise dispose of the donated property (or any portion thereof). Equipment that is no longer of use by the organization will be returned to Cisco."

Our organization has other Cisco equipment. Can I add these serial numbers to my existing Cisco Smart Net support contract?

Serial numbers that are not part of the Product Grant cannot be added to the contract. Only covered donated products are eligible. End-users are responsible for obtaining their own Cisco support agreements for any other Cisco equipment they own.