If there was ever a time for corporate social responsibility to lead the way in offering accessible education to serve as a bridge to career possibilities, it is now.

In my recent blog “Empowering and reskilling our workforce for an inclusive future” I highlighted the deep impact of the pandemic on education and economies, particularly on those who are most vulnerable in our communities, including low-wage workers and disadvantaged groups.

Cisco Networking Academy graphic of bridge award With our extensive ecosystem of education, government and not-for-profit partners, Cisco Networking Academy enables people with skills that are and will be increasingly required in the workforce of the future. We are driven by an inclusive mission – one that seeks new ways to nurture opportunity for underserved and under-represented people all around the world.

Delivering such a dynamic and cutting-edge skills-to-jobs program is made possible through powerful partnerships with equally dynamic institutions who share our vision. Many of these partners have excelled in addressing pandemic-related challenges. During our first-ever digital Global Partner Conference in May, we presented ‘Be the Bridge to Possible’ awards in two categories.

The stories we heard from our education partners, who are the face of education to so many, displayed a commitment to student learning, no matter the obstacles, and a determination that learning should never stop despite any circumstance.

Cisco Networking Academy presented Be the Bridge Awards to 41 individuals or institutions to acknowledge their outstanding contribution in educating the technology professionals of the future.

Each of Cisco’s four geographic regions were also awarded a Golden Bridge Award for individuals or institutions that showed exceptional commitment to creating skills for all and prioritizing student success over the past year. I’m delighted to share our 2021 Golden Bridge Award winners.

2021 Golden Bridge Award winners

Mr. Mohammed Jaffer Pasha
Telangana Academy for Skills and Knowledge, India
Jaffer is an individual who successfully created a compelling virtual Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) campaign, despite extraordinary challenges presented by the pandemic, to engage 27 instructors, from across 18 academies teaching over 780 students in CCNA. Learn more about Telagana Academy for Skills and Knowledge.

Ministry of National Education (MoNE), Turkey
MoNE are one of the top partners in the Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia region with over 12,000 new student participants in 2020. They were also among the first partners in the region to adopt the CyberOps and DevNet curricula.

With a focus on partnership as a key to success, MoNE is generous in sharing knowledge and best practice in networking, cybersecurity technical expertise, and how to make the transition to digital education. Read more about the Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Education as well as a brief history of the Ministry of National Education.

América Digital, Mexico

América Digital quickly responded to the pandemic by coordinating a campaign with six educational institutions to promote distance learning. Various courses were set up on a website that attracted more than 5,000 new students in the first 15 days, expanding the reach of digital literacy courses to a non-traditional academic community. This strengthened Networking Academy’s position as a credible industry leader prepared to offer distance education at no cost.

América Digital has also supported academies in Mexico with free remote training for instructors and exempted some fees from their annuity as further financial support.

And for the first Learn-A-Thon in Mexico in 2020, América Digital created additional marketing materials and encouraged the academies they support to participate, many of which were recognized as winners. Read more about América Digital.

Stanly Community College, United States

Stanly College has been a supporter of the Cisco Networking Academy Program for many years and is an exemplar of lifelong education.

During the pandemic, Stanly College supported any school in the region requiring remote access to deliver distance learning to their students. It granted NetLab remote access to many schools across the south and south-eastern U.S. to help with this effort.

Working collaboratively with the Computer Security Resource Center, Stanly College also provided training for 25 instructors at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Learn more about Stanly Community College and watch the video below:

I congratulate all Be the Bridge to Possible award winners and thank you for your outstanding contributions to furthering the reach and impact of the Cisco Networking Academy Program for students, everywhere.

About Cisco Networking Academy

The Cisco Networking Academy Program was introduced 23 years ago with the specific aim of preparing students for the future of work. Providing participants with the skills to thrive in what was then the burgeoning digital age has led to Networking Academy becoming the world’s largest and longest running corporate social responsibility education program, benefitting 12.6 million students to date.

Since 2005, more than two million students — many from underserved communities — have attributed getting a new job to the skills they learned participating in the Networking Academy.

As technology has evolved, so too has the Program, with new offerings that reflect not only the skills in demand today, but also the skills that employers will require in the years to come. We draw on our industry expertise in areas like networking and security, supporting the next generation of technology specialists into the market. We recently partnered with the Cloud Security Alliance to bring their Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge, or CCSK, course to Cisco Networking Academy, for example.

Networking Academy aims to empower all people with career possibilities by transforming the lives of learners, educators and communities through the power of technology, education and career opportunities.


Laura Quintana

Vice President and General Manager

Cisco Networking Academy