One Billion Lives Positively Impacted

One inspired goal. 80+ global nonprofit partners. One billion lives changed for the better.

Solving the world's greatest challenges

In 2016, Cisco set a ten-year goal to positively impact one billion lives through our social impact grants and Cisco Networking Academy programs. A total of 1.1 billion people were positively impacted through these programs between FY16-FY23.

Our social impact grant priority sectors

We invest in developing and scaling tech-based solutions to positively impact vulnerable, underserved communities around the world.

Cisco Crisis Response

Providing essential human needs—including shelter, water, food, and disaster relief.

Learning and digital skills

Expanding access to quality education and digital skills training.

Economic empowerment

Driving equitable access to resources and opportunities for long-term economic security.

Cisco Networking Academy

Developing the workforce of the future

Through Cisco Networking Academy, we provide high-quality IT courses, simulation software, and hands-on practice opportunities via our learning platform to support instructors and engage learners around the world.

How we define positive impact

Within our One Billion Lives goal, positive impact occurs when an individual has gained access to a critical resource, learned something, or engaged in a meaningful way. For our social impact grants, positive impact is further defined based on the priority sector being addressed.

Selected examples of our definitions of positive impact for each of our priority sectors are provided below:

  • Cisco Crisis Response: Affordable and stable housing; clean, affordable, reliable drinking water and sanitation; secure and effective humanitarian aid; increased knowledge of smallholder farmers that results in increased farm yields, and/or farmer income, etc.
  • Learning and digital skills: For our social impact grants, this includes improved student attendance and engagement; decreased drop-out rates; increased student mastery of subject matter, etc.; improvements in teacher capacity, satisfaction, performance, etc.  For our Cisco Networking Academy, this includes students completing courses, obtaining jobs, etc.
  • Economic empowerment: Client-centric digital financial products and services (e.g., loans, savings accounts, resources) that enable people to affordably and secure transact and participate in the formal economy; skills training that results in jobs that provide stable and sufficient income; capital, mentoring, and other advisory services that assist entrepreneurs to start and maintain businesses that create jobs.

Celebrating the lives we've changed for the better

Advancing clean water access

Charity: water’s proprietary sensor remotely monitors rural community hand pumps.

Fostering access to math education

MIND Research Institute helps math education come alive for millions of students each year.

Empowering new careers

Cisco Networking Academy provides IT education to over 3 million students a year.

How we validated our impact

Cisco's methodology for evaluating progress towards our goal

Cisco's goal to positively impact one billion lives includes many–but not all–of our social impact initiatives, programs, and partnerships. Our methodology focuses on finding a balance between ensuring consistency and accuracy and meeting the needs of our nonprofit grant partners.

Additional details about our measurement process and validation methodology are provided in our Basis of Preparation document (PDF).

Programs and initiatives included in our goal

Social impact grants are defined by:

  • Number of unique people positively impacted, per Cisco’s definitions of positive impact listed above.
  • Beyond positive impact, our methodology ensures each person counted is unique and that they are only counted once over time. For example, some people may benefit from multiple programs within a year, or may benefit from the same program over multiple years. They are only counted once within the timeframe of our One Billion Lives goal.
  • We recognized that we could not always accurately quantify the impact of some categories within our social impact investments.  To address this, we did not include some of our social impact grants where the nonprofit partner did not have a way to count unique individuals positively impacted. This was the case, for example, with some of our nonprofit partners who address food insecurity—as they do not track unique individuals who receive support.
  • Meaningful contribution by Cisco: Cash grant/s and other meaningful support. For example: Technology donations, advisory support, etc.

Signature programs: Cisco Networking Academy and Skills for All

  • Number of unique Networking Academy and Skills for All students who completed a course
  • Number of unique participating Networking Academy instructors
  • Number of individuals who have used Cisco Packet Tracer

What is not included in our One Billion Lives goal:

  • Most COVID-19 cash grants
  • Most disaster/humanitarian relief cash grants in response to specific disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, etc.)
  • Cisco technology donations
  • University research cash grants
  • Cash grants related to Cisco's compliance with India's Companies Act
  • Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge
  • Cisco Country Digitization Acceleration (CDA) initiatives
  • Grants made as part of the Cisco Foundation's $100M climate impact & regeneration commitment

We also recognize that measuring and validating impact is not an easy undertaking. Where needed, we collaborate with our nonprofit partners to build their internal impact evaluation capabilities—providing our expertise and resources.

ESG Reporting Hub and 2023 Cisco Purpose Report

Cisco is putting people, technology, and resources toward Powering an Inclusive Future for All, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Visit our Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Reporting Hub.

Power an inclusive future for all

We pursue our purpose by closing the digital divide, empowering the future of work, fighting for equality and social justice, and building a regenerative planet.