Technology has the ability to expand opportunities for students in both K-12 and higher education. It can extend the classroom beyond its physical footprint, offer alternative ways for students to learn, and provide increased access to education worldwide. It also helps schools operate more efficiently and can keep students and faculty safe. So why wouldn’t everyone want to digitize education?

Well, for many educators and administration, the issue isn’t desire – the deal-breaker is cost. Many schools would love to bring digital tools and solutions to their institutions, but rely on local, state and even federal funds to operate, and often have a limited budget as it is. If you need to use every bit of money you get to pay your teachers, keep the lights on, and provide basic resources for your students, it’s difficult to make an investment in technology, even if it will improve learning in the long run.

While technology can reduce costs in the long-term, the up-front expenditure is often too much of a burden for schools to undertake. But we strongly believe that every students should be able to reap the rewards that digital learning can bring. That’s why we work so closely with our customers to discuss alternative funding methods, which can allow schools to undergo digital transformations in a more financially feasible way.

For example, many K-12 schools are eligible for E-rate funding, which is a government program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company to help close the Wi-Fi gap and open access to high-speed broadband. We have multiple resources available to schools applying for E-rate funding, and have experts that can help walk you through the process. You can learn more about it on our new E-rate website.

Another option is to utilize Cisco Capital Financing. From fair market value leases to full pay-out leases to loans to lifecycle financing, Cisco Capital has a variety of options that can help your school. Read more about how Cisco Capital Financing works and if it’s a good option for your school’s needs here.

A third option to help your school digitize is to apply for a grant. Today, grants are proliferating, and it can be a difficult process to navigate. Our Grants Strategy Team for Education was created to help walk schools through this process. Every grant and every school is different, which is why our team adopts a tailored approach.

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I would like to showcase Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC), a rural college located in Macon, Georgia. CGTC created “BlendFlex,” a blended learning program that provides multiple avenues of learning for its students and enables professional learners to meet business and educational needs. When the college decided to increase classrooms, teaching resources, managing personnel and learning opportunities, it engaged the Cisco grants team to explore its options.

Together, CGTC and the Cisco Public Funding Team identified the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant as the right fit for CGTC’s needs. Cisco guided CGTC through the application process, and the college was awarded $2.6 million in 2014 to help implement BlendFlex. This new suite of collaboration tools deployed across CGTC’s satellite and rural campuses gives students more options to continue their education.

In fact, CGTC experienced such strong results from the TAACCCT grant that they’ve continued to work with the Cisco Public Funding Team to identify more grant opportunities. You can learn more about CGTC’s story here. If you think that a grant might be a good funding option for your school, you can learn how to partner with Cisco here.

No student should be held back from digital learning opportunities just because their school can’t afford the technology. We strongly believe in the transformative power education technology, and we’re here to help you find an alternative funding option that can help your school undergo its own digital transformation.


Mary Schlegelmilch

Business Development Manager