Cisco Systems Foundation: Grants for Global Development

OVERVIEW: The Cisco Foundation is the charitable arm of the global telecom giant, Cisco Systems. The Cisco Foundation is not large, but it does devote a significant portion of its resources to international development projects.

IP TAKE: The Cisco Foundation has limited resources to devote to the massive task of fostering economic development around the world. Replicability, sustainability, scalability, and broad impact are the overarching themes that Cisco looks for in deciding where to invest its money.

PROFILE: The Cisco Systems Foundation seeks to "[d]evelop technology-based solutions" in is investment areas. It targets underserved communities in its support and looks for solutions that harness the power of the Internet and communications technology.

It prioritizes grantmaking to education, economic empowerment, and critical human needs. In the past, it has funded STEM education programs, health-care communications equipment for patients in rural areas, and basic tech infrastructure in places in need of rebuilding or modernization. Much of the Cisco Foundation's focus is abroad. Although its domestic grants are sizable,  it also supports communities in China, Kenya, and Brazil, among others. A review of the charitable work that Cisco actually funds reveals an emphasis on projects that incorporate technology or improve the world's scientific knowledge base. 

Most Cisco Systems Foundation grants range between $10,000 to $50,000. Applying for a grant from the Cisco Foundation is relatively straightforward. First-time applicants should note that Cisco gives out a maximum of $75,000 to organizations it has not funded before.

The Cisco Foundation's global development funds are limited, but they are accessible, thanks to a relatively transparent application process and Cisco's willingness to support first-time applicants and smaller projects. Cisco places some priority on projects that incorporate and emphasize science and technology.


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