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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 networking and communications technology to have a measurable impact.

The Cisco Product Grant Program focuses on the same social investment areas as our cash grants: Cisco Crisis Response (which includes shelter, water, food, and disaster relief), access to education, and economic empowerment.

Eligibility and requirements

Cisco's Product Grant Program accepts applications year-round from eligible charitable organizations. Nonprofits can determine their eligibility by reviewing our grant giving policies and the requirements below. 

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.
  • An organization's overhead must not exceed 25%.

Ineligible programs, activities, and requests

All direct grant applications must be completed using our online application form. Cisco will not consider incomplete proposals or paper-based applications. The following 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: Direct service programs run by faith-based organizations may be eligible. See our grant giving policies.)
  • Start-up/new nonprofits (those with less than one year of successful operations)
  • An organization with more than 25% overhead
  • Proposals in combination or in support of a product sale
  • Schools & scholarships:
    1. Public, charter, or private schools or school systems
    2. School foundations
    3. Booster clubs or other fundraising organizations affiliated with particular school(s)
    4. Colleges/universities
    5. Scholarships/stipend programs of any kind
  • Libraries or museums
  • Hospitals, health care centers, or community clinics
  • Food banks
  • Requests for third-party equipment like office furniture, laptops, or desktop computers
  • Requests for third-party installation or design services

Program guidelines

Quarterly review schedule

We accept proposals for direct product grants on an ongoing, year-round basis. However, grants are reviewed on a quarterly 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. 

Sales restrictions for product grants

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

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 missions of other nonprofits; expand their service to more clients or provide additional services at a similar cost; and provide technology access to underserved populations or nonprofits that do so.

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 equipment, Webex and similar subscription services are not available as product grants. Meraki equipment is supported.
  • Advanced technologies might  require Cisco-certified individuals 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).

Maintenance and support

Cisco Product Grant Program includes five free years of Cisco's Smart Net support service or similar.

Metrics and measurement

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 is determined by 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 number of inputs. Examples: the number of clients served, units of service delivered, or a broadening of geographic scope

Mission success is determined by 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, previously 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 served, 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 is determined by the benefits derived from the equipment. Indicators could include enhanced security, newfound scalability, or improved reliability of communications within your organization, with partners, or with other stakeholders. You could 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.

Program policies

The following policies apply to the Product Grant Program.

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 website.

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.

FAQ

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

What should 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. 

What if I no longer use the equipment?

Cisco encourages, in such cases, to provide the equipment for recycling via Cisco's recycle program where available. For details, please refer to Cisco Customer Recycling Solutions. Regranting of the equipment can only be done with Cisco's approval. Reselling is not allowed.

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.

How to apply

Product grant applications are accepted year round. We offer an indirect product grant program, managed by Techsoup on behalf of Cisco, and a direct product grant program.

Indirect application process

Smaller nonprofits with a request for standard equipment, under US$30,000 list price, are managed by our partners:

Direct application process in the United States

Direct product grants are available to nonprofit organizations in many places worldwide. For various logistical reasons, we recommend you to contact us before you apply online so we can discuss the details up front.

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.

Direct application process outside the United States

Direct product 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 details up front.

Webex Flex NGO Plan

Cisco is supporting  non-governmental (NGO) organizations by providing eligible organizations the ability to purchase Webex Meetings at a 60% discounted rate, coming out to US$0.80 per user per month, with our Flex Plan Non-Governmental Organization offer. With Webex, you can increase the reach of your organization while reducing office and travel expenses.

Please review the Webex Flex NGO Plan (PDF - 664 KB) and learn more on webex.com.

Contact Cisco's Product Grant Program

If you have a question about Cisco's Product Grant Program (PGP), please contact us. Note that we can only respond to inquiries directly related to Cisco product grants.