Global Impact Cash Grants

Cisco Foundation

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Deadline: Rolling

Grant amount: Up to US $75,000

Fields of work: Economic Services & Development Entrepreneurship Disaster Relief / Humanitarian Aid Workforce Preparation & Job Readiness Career/College Preparation Microfinance Life Skills Training & Rehabilitation STEM Education Economic Rights & Justice Green Economy & Jobs Educational Access & Equity Parental Involvement in Education Job Creation Homelessness Services Sanitation & Clean Drinking Water Food Security Show all

Applicant type: Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program, Capital Project, Training / Capacity Building

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

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Global Impact Cash Grants

Cisco welcomes applications for Global Impact Cash Grants from community partners around the world who share our vision and offer an innovative approach to a critical social challenge.

We identify, incubate, and develop innovative solutions with the most impact. Global Impact Cash Grants go to nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that address a significant social problem. We’re looking for programs that fit within our investment areas, serve the underserved, and leverage technology to improve the reach and efficiency of services. We accept applications year-round from eligible organizations. An initial information form is used to determine whether your organization will be invited to complete a full application.

Social Investment Areas

At Cisco, we make social investments in three areas where we believe our technology and our people can make the biggest impact—education, economic empowerment, and crisis response, the last of which incorporates shelter, water, food, and disaster relief. Together, these investment areas help people overcome barriers of poverty and inequality, and make a lasting difference by fostering strong global communities.

Education Investments

Our strategy is to inclusively invest in technology-based solutions that increase equitable access to education while improving student performance, engagement, and career exploration. We support K-12 solutions that emphasize science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) as well as literacy. We also consider programs that teach environmental sustainability, eliminate barriers to accessing climate change education, and invite student engagement globally to positively affect the environment.

What we look for:

  • Innovative early grade solutions using the internet and technology to bridge the barriers preventing access to education for underserved students globally.
  • Solutions that positively affect student attendance, attitudes, and behavior while inspiring action by students to improve learning outcomes, whether they participate in person, online, or in blended learning environments. 
  • Solutions with high potential to replicate and scale globally, thereby increasing the availability of evidence-based solutions that support student-centricity, teacher capacity in the classroom, and increased parental participation to help students learn and develop.

Note: Cisco does not provide direct funding to schools.

Economic Empowerment

Our strategy is to invest in early stage, tech-enabled solutions that provide equitable access to the knowledge, skills, and resources that people need to support themselves and their families toward resilience, independence, and economic security.

Our goal is to support solutions that benefit individuals and families, and that contribute to local community growth and economic development in a sustainable economy.

We target our support in three interconnected areas:

  • Skills development to help job seekers secure dignified employment and long-term career pathways in technology or other sectors, including environmental sustainability/green jobs.
  • Inclusive entrepreneurship with small businesses as engines of local growth as well as high growth potential start-ups as large-scale job creators nationally and internationally, in technology or other sectors, including environment sustainability/green businesses.
  • Banking the unbanked through relevant and affordable financial products and capacity building services.

Cisco Crisis Response

We seek to help overcome the cycle of poverty and dependence and achieve a more sustainable future through strategic investments. We back organizations that successfully address critical needs of underserved communities, because those who have their basic needs met are better equipped to learn and thrive.

What we look for:

  • Innovative solutions that increase the capacity of grantees to deliver their products and services more effectively and efficiently
  • Design and implementation of web-based tools that increase the availability of, or improve access to, products and services that are necessary for people to survive and thrive
  • Programs that increase access to clean water, food, shelter, or disaster relief and promote a more sustainable future for all
    • By policy, relief campaigns respond to significant natural disaster and humanitarian crises as opposed to those caused by human conflict. Also by policy, our investments in this area do not include healthcare solutions.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Organizational Requirements
        • Organizations within the United States 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 from outside the U.S. must provide information and documents to determine whether the organization is the equivalent of a U.S. public charity.
        • Organizations to be funded must serve an audience greater than 65 percent economically underserved relative to the average standards of the target geography.
        • Organizations and programs must focus on at least one of our social investment areas: crisis response, access to education, or economic empowerment.
          • For each of these three investment areas, we will also consider proposals that address environmental sustainability within the context of that investment area.
            • For example, we would consider funding an economic empowerment program that specifically focuses on creating green jobs.
        • A nonprofit organization's overhead is not to exceed 25 percent.
          • (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 to the requirement on overhead expenses are determined on a case-by-case basis.)
      • 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.


      • Proposals in the following areas are not eligible for a Global Impact Cash Grant:
        • Miscellaneous exclusions:
          • general operating expenses, other than directly associated with the program itself;
          • individuals;
          • research programs;
          • membership-based activities;
          • programs that promote or serve one culture, race, religion, population group, or political viewpoint - rather than the community at large;
          • religious, political, or sectarian organizations.
            • (Note: A direct service program run by a faith-based organization may be eligible. See our grant giving policies.)
        • Hospitals:
          • Private or public hospitals;
          • hospital foundations;
          • medical centers, research centers, etc.
            • (Programs based in a hospital may be eligible; however, grant funds must go exclusively to direct service in the community, not to general hospital operating expenses.)
        • Healthcare
          • Programs focused on improving physical or mental health
        • Schools and scholarships:
          • Private, public, or charter schools;
          • school foundations, booster clubs, and/or fundraising organizations affiliated with a particular school;
          • colleges/universities;
          • scholarships, stipends or loans within a program; and/or
          • school-related activities such as field trips, research programs, etc.
          • Sustaining existing programs, interventions, or solutions.
          • Geographic replication through sponsorships.
          • Purchasing 3rd party technology solutions, including, but not limited to, learning management, customer relationship management, or collaboration technologies.
          • Paying on-going operational expenses for teachers/administrators/aids salaries, purchasing supplies, paying student tuition, funding scholarship programs, purchasing equipment (i.e. hardware and/or software), or recurring utilities.
        • Events:
          • athletic events, competitions, tournaments;
          • conferences, seminars, workshops;
          • festivals, field trips, or other recreational events;
          • fundraising events or sponsorships (benefit dinners, walks/runs, concerts, sports teams, etc.).
        • Philanthropic:
          • capital building funds, challenge grants, grant-making organizations (all other foundations including private foundations, family foundations, school foundations, etc.).
      • In general, Cisco does not fund the purchase of computer hardware or software, but 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.


      This page was last reviewed May 23, 2022 and last updated May 23, 2022