Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants

Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants

Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants support qualifying health and K-8 education programs run by nonprofits that operate within 50 miles of our corporate headquarters in San Jose, California.

Program overview

Once a year, Cisco awards US$15,000 Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants to qualifying Bay Area nonprofit organizations. We accept applications for two weeks in February and award grants each June.

Application process

Application process

Application period:

Monday, February 5, 2018 - Friday, February 16, 2018 at 5:00 P.M. PT

How to apply online:

1. Take the Eligibility Quiz. This can be done any time prior to the open application period in February 2018. If the quiz indicates that you could be eligible, take note of the invitation code provided at the end. Please enter the invitation code every time you log into the online platform to access your application.

2. Review the sample application

3. Access the grant application starting on Monday, February 5, 2018. Enter the Silicon Valley Impact Grants invitation code that you received upon completion of the Eligibility Quiz. Your completed application must be submitted by 5:00 P.M. PST on Friday, February 16, 2018.

Investment Areas

Investment areas

Silicon Valley Impact Grants focus on a subset of Cisco's standard social investment areas:

Health programs

Cisco seeks to invest in programs that promote wellness and positive health habits, especially in the areas of obesity and violence prevention, as these epidemics affect children.

K-8 education programs

Aligned with our overall focus on Access to Education, Cisco seeks to invest in programs that make it possible for every child to attain a quality education. This is demonstrated by improved student attendance; behavior; and increased math, science, or literacy course performance.

Eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements

Before considering a proposal, please carefully review our organizational eligibility requirements and grant guidelines.

Organizational requirements:

  • Program serves communities within 50-mile radius of San Jose: Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants are available to qualifying organizations within a 50-mile radius of Cisco's corporate headquarters in San Jose, California. The physical headquarters of the organization need not be within this radius, as long as an affiliate office operates and/or administers programs within the specified area
  • Compliance with Cisco’s giving policies: Organizations must adhere to Cisco’s grant giving policies related to non-discrimination; religious proselytizing; non-support of violence and terrorism; advocacy, lobbying and other political activities; and more
  • Only two years of consecutive funding: Organizations that have received two years of consecutive funding must wait one year before reapplying. This approach enables Cisco to serve a wider range of deserving organizations in the community. To verify your organization's eligibility in this regard, please review our Silicon Valley Impact Grant recipients for the last two years
  • 501(c)(3) tax exemption status: Organizations must be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) and classified by the IRS as a public charity
  • Underserved population: Organizations to be funded must serve a population greater than 50% economically underserved relative to the average standards of the target geography
  • Percentage of overhead: An organization's overhead is not to exceed 25% (Organizations are occasionally exempt from this requirement; however, they must be exceptionally aligned with Cisco's values and criteria, and they must clearly explain and justify their overhead costs. Exemptions are determined on a case-by-case basis.)
  • Fiscal sponsorship: Programs applying through a fiscal sponsorship must submit the grant application through the fiscal sponsor organization and include required documentations for both the sponsored project/program and the fiscal sponsor


  • Multi-year grant support requests
  • Public/private schools, charter schools, school districts, parent/booster clubs and school, college or university foundations
  • Organizations whose primary mission is grant making or fundraising
  • Programs such as athletic events, competitions or tournaments, conferences/seminars, festivals, field trips, and fundraisers including sponsorship of benefit dinners, walks/runs, golf tournaments, sports teams, etc.
  • Capital-building funds, challenge grants, and matching grants
  • Individuals seeking personal grant awards
  • Religious, political, or sectarian organizations (Note: A direct service program run by a faith-based organization may be eligible. See our grant giving policies.)
  • Research projects/programs

Policy on funding equipment:

  • In general, Cisco does not fund the purchase of computer hardware or software
  • We may consider doing so only in cases where such resources are leveraged in a strategically innovative manner, thereby extending their impact well beyond everyday/staff use; and such resources are not available through other, more cost-effective means such as in-kind donation. Applicants must demonstrate that they have thoroughly explored such avenues without success

Evaluation criteria

Evaluation criteria

A grant committee consisting of trained Cisco employee volunteers evaluates each Silicon Valley Impact Grant proposal using the following criteria.

Addresses a significant social problem with unmet need

The organization addresses a problem that affects a large number of lives within the target area, and which has detrimental effects on the lives of individuals within that community.

Innovative and impactful approach to the social problem

The proposed program is innovative in its approach to meet the needs of the target population and has significant/lasting impact on those served.

Incorporates metrics to measure program impact

The program defines and utilizes SMART metrics (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) to help Cisco and the grantee measure progress towards success. The highest priority and funding consideration is given to proposals that clearly articulate the planned impact of their efforts, as well as the metrics by which that impact will be measured.

Serves at least 50% underserved population

The target audience of the program includes a minimum of 50% economically underserved populations relative to the average standards of the target geography.

Incorporates SMART metrics 

The program clearly defines and utilizes SMART metrics (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) to monitor progress and measure impact.

Utilizes and leverages technology 

This is not required for funding consideration. However, priority is given to organizations that incorporate technology into program delivery and reach of services.

Shows potential to leverage a strong relationship with Cisco employees

Volunteerism is not required for funding consideration. However, additional consideration may be given to organizations that are or can leverage Cisco employee volunteerism, expertise or leadership in their organization and/or in program delivery.

Possesses outstanding leadership

The organization has an outstanding leader and/or management team with qualities and credible track record in the relevant area.

Aligns with Cisco goals and values

The organization meets all the criteria, guidelines, and requirements as defined for Cisco's Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grant program.