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Creating digital solutions to social problems

Cisco and the Cisco Foundation discover the best ideas to solve social problems, and we help make them a reality by providing funding, technology donations, and expertise.

Working through nonprofit partners, we help create technology-based solutions for economic empowerment, education, critical human needs, and disaster relief, improving lives around the globe.

For a geographic representation of many of our partnerships, please visit our Global Impact Map.

Access to education partners

We identify partners with innovative, technology-based programs that improve student performance and engagement, particularly in STEM studies and among underserved communities.

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114th Partnership helps young people navigate education and career pathways by converting real workplace challenges into Spark 101 Interactive STEM Videos and 114th Professional Challenges, each designed to increase students’ equitable access to and engagement in workforce skills that can lead to high-growth careers.

Our employees have numbered among Citizen Schools' largest contingent of Citizen Teacher volunteers, leading 10-week student apprenticeships to expand the learning day for children in low-income communities.

FIRST creates teams of students that research real-world problems. Cisco supported the FIRST LEGO League  programming expansion in Yuma, AZ, helping 228 underserved students to become science and technology leaders and innovators.

Generation Yes (GenYES) prepares students to support K-12 teachers and IT staff as they integrate technology to improve learning. Cisco helped save one district an estimated US$50,000 over a 6-month period.

This program encourages teachers and students to interact with each other while learning. Cisco supported development of a free search engine for easy access to teacher-created lesson plans, content, and assessments.

The Institute works to inspire students with a love of math. Cisco cash grants have supported the conversion of math instructional software to an online format, extending its reach from 12,000 elementary students to over 1 million. 

My Options is the nation’s largest college and career planning program. Cisco support has helped develop tools to connect STEM organizations with real-time, actionable data and intelligence to identify current STEM interest by various demographic identifiers throughout the US.

Cisco support in the form of product donations is helping New Leaders to strengthen their remote access infrastructure enabling the launch of new programs to serve more educators and build a more diverse school leader pipeline nationwide.

Cisco has supported NTC's Teacher Assessment Tool project and its online mentoring solution to create "induction programs" that accelerate new teacher onboarding and effectiveness.

Cisco has supported the development of Reynolds Center’s digital 2D/3D fabrication curriculum, FAB@School, which has resulted in increased math performance and interest in STEM in elementary and middle school students.

Roadtrip Nation helps students connect their interests to potential careers. With Cisco support, Roadtrip Nation has developed tools and curriculum that have been proven to increase students’ academic performance and confidence in their ability to succeed.

Cisco has supported the efforts of Science Buddies to provide a dynamic, engaging stream of STEM-related content to students, focusing in particular on female and other underserved populations.

Teach for All aims to end educational inequity by developing leaders who commit to teaching in high-needs schools for two years. Cisco product donations are the basis for its global telecommunications platform.

Cisco supports the Connect.Teaching program in South Sudan—an initiative that improves children's learning through an innovative, tablet-based teacher professional development program. The project aims to improve learning for 7500 children.

Economic empowerment partners

Cisco supports technology-based programs that connect underserved people to relevant skills, meaningful employment, entrepreneurial opportunities, financial products and services, and other resources they need to thrive in the digital economy.

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Cisco supports Anudip's efforts to provide technical training, life skills coaching, and IT-based employment opportunities to low-income women and youth in India.

Cisco is helping CARE digitize its successful Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) initiative, where women provide loans to each other and establish savings groups. The program has enabled five million people across more than 30 countries.

Digital Divide Data provides education and employment  opportunities to young people in emerging economies, as well as veterans and military spouses in the United States. Cisco support has helped DDD replicate its innovative model across Asia, Africa, and the United States.

Cisco supports the Grameen Foundation's efforts to empower the poor, especially women, with breakthroughs to end poverty and hunger. It creates breakthrough solutions—spanning financial, agricultural and health services—that leverage digital technology and local partner networks to bring people the tools and opportunities they need to help themselves.

Cisco has invested in Labor Link, a mobile technology platform that increases transparency and gives workers a voice in global supply chains. Workers can anonymously report working conditions and receive information on work-related issues, training, and financial literacy.

Cisco supports the Poverty Probability Index (PPI), a measurement tool for organizations and businesses with a mission to serve the poor. It measures poverty outreach, improves social performance, and tracks changes in poverty levels over time.

Cisco has supported multiple Kiva initiatives to help more people access loans for agriculture, water and sanitation, clean energy, higher education, health, and information and communication technology, including implementing their model in the United States.

Laboratoria empowers young women from low-income backgrounds in Latin America by giving them access to education and work in the digital sector. Cisco is providing support to e-enable their assessment, learning, and evaluation platform.

With Cisco’s support, Living Goods has developed and implemented a mobile technology platform to increase the scale, efficiency, and effectiveness of its micro-entrepreneur network and health outcomes for women and children in Uganda and Kenya.

Cisco product and cash grants have helped Microfinance Information Exchange promote transparency in the microfinance sector, using technology to provide objective, qualified, and relevant performance data and analysis.

NESsT develops sustainable social enterprises that solve critical social problems in emerging market economies. Cisco is supporting NESst in developing its online capacity-building tools to support social enterprises. 

With Cisco support, Opportunity International is designing and delivering mobile banking products and training to low-income people globally who lack access to financial products and services.

TaroWorks is a social enterprise that sells advanced mobile platform data. Cisco supports its mission to improve product and service delivery to the poor by bringing real-time data to any organization, anywhere. 

Critical human needs partners

Cisco makes strategic investments in organizations that improve the speed and efficiency of meeting critical human needs, such as food, potable water, shelter, and disaster relief.

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Cisco has supported the development of the open-source Field Level Operations Watch (FLOW) tool, which enables organizations to gather and evaluate water-related data via mobile and other technologies.

Cisco partners with the American Red Cross to respond to disasters through cash grants, employee giving campaigns, and volunteers who offer relief services to people affected by natural disasters.

Cisco has supported the development of AtmaGo, a peer-to-peer communication platform and community engagement tool used for disaster preparation and recovery operations. AtmaGo has reached over 500,000 users in Indonesia.

Cisco has supported the Centre’s development and distribution of knowledge and training products and services for those implementing water and sanitation programs in underdeveloped communities.

The 100,000 Homes Campaign found safe places to live for vulnerable, chronically homeless people across the country with Cisco’s support. 

Cisco has supported Digital Green's Loop program, which leverages mobile technology to improve smallholder farmers' access to markets—digitizing the aggregation, transport, and payment process and helping farmers realize the highest possible income from their sales. 

Cisco support for a new transportation management system streamlined services for a network of 200-member food banks, leading to a projected savings of US$1.5 million over 5 years or 12 million meals.

This global organization works to eliminate poverty and homelessness with affordable housing. Cisco provides cash grants and matches employee volunteer time with cash contributions.

The Housing Trust makes loans and grants to increase the supply of affordable housing. Cisco has supported its lending programs to enable the construction of permanently affordable rental properties for low income residents.

KoboToolbox is a free and open-source data collection, management, and sharing platform for humanitarian aid organizations. Cisco supported the re-launch of the ToolBox in 2014 and has since supported the development of additional features.

Mercy Corps has been a Cisco community partner since 2006 and has received numerous grants to help transform communities around the world.

NetHope helps its 53-member consortium of aid NGOs use technology to coordinate and speed disaster relief efforts. Cisco has helped build technology capacity to improve the effectiveness of its member organizations.

Cisco supported the research and development for a PSU-owned initiative, SweetSense, which makes low-cost remote sensors for the water sector that can improve the reliability and sustainability of water service delivery. The sensors alert local maintenance workers via SMS when a water point breaks down, reducing response time and downtime of water points.

Cisco has helped Safe Water Network develop and expand its suite of tablet-based tools to support its network operators and local partners in providing access to affordable and safe water in underserved communities.

The Ushahidi platform, which Cisco has supported, is a crowd-sourced, freely shared mapping and content management system to improve collaboration and coordination of disaster response and relief efforts.

Water for People initially developed the Field Level Operations Watch (FLOW) tool, which is now managed and iterated by Akvo (see above). Cisco also supported the development of monitoring and evaluations tools such as the EF Tracker.

Cisco has supported development of two-way mobile communication tools for WFP’s Mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping program, enabling WFP to track food security trends in real-time, providing critical data to support humanitarian decision-making.

Additional partners

Cisco occasionally supports organizations outside or across our investment areas when we discover highly innovative uses of IT or an opportunity to scale the impact of our support for nonprofits.

As a founding partner, Cisco has supported the expansion of Network for Good's Internet-based resources to help nonprofits raise funds, communicate, and strategize. 

South Africa Education Trust (South Africa)

The Trust was created in 2008 to support increasing access to education for black South African students. For example, the King’s School provides primary school education (tuition and boarding) to seven least-served black South African students with support from the Trust.

Cisco and TechSoup work together to connect nonprofits and public libraries with donated and discounted technology products for social benefit across the globe.

Explore our grant programs

Product Grant Program

We donate networking technology to help nonprofits make innovative use of the Internet.

Global Impact Cash Grants

Funding to multiply the results of organizations with national or multinational operations.

Silicon Valley Impact Cash Grants

Support for eligible organizations in underserved communities near San Jose, California.