Cisco has always supported nonprofit organizations focused on improving the speed and efficiency of meeting critical human needs through tech-enabled solutions, especially during humanitarian crises. Our COVID-19 response is no different – we have been proactive in designing interventions that help those most in need within our communities. People experiencing homelessness and hunger. Those at risk of becoming homeless or food insecure due to loss of income. People on the front lines of the response.

Since March, we have made over $51 million in cash grant and in-kind contributions to our nonprofit partners and others focused on meeting these critical human needs. Our contributions include:

  • $15.9 million donated to Destination: Home, Covenant House International, Mercy Corps, and others in support of their efforts to help those who are homeless, displaced or at risk
  • $7.4 million donated to Feeding America, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara, and Replate in support of their efforts to help those experiencing hunger and food insecurity
  • $25.1 million in cash and personal protective equipment (PPE) donated to Direct Relief, the World Health Organization, Americares, First Responders Children’s Foundation, #FirstResponders First, and others in support of their efforts to help protect and support those on the front lines
  • $3 million donated to over 75 local nonprofits around the world through our employee matching gift campaign (a record campaign, reaching the highest levels of employee giving and engagement)

The area of critical human needs is one of our investment portfolios and an important part of our overall investment approach. That is because we believe that in order to become economically self-sufficient and thrive, people first must have their basic needs met – needs that become even more critical during a pandemic.

Those experiencing homelessness face a greater risk from COVID-19 as they are likely to be older, chronically ill, or immunocompromised. They also lack access to water, sanitation, and hygiene products that might help prevent the spread of the virus, and do not have homes where they can “shelter in place.”

Refugee populations face similar challenges, lacking sufficient access to these basic resources. In addition, refugee camps are often located in densely populated and remote conditions with limited access to health care, which can exacerbate the situation.

History shows that racial and ethnic minority groups tend to be at higher risk for severe illness and death during public health emergencies. For many, existing disparities, such as poorer underlying health and barriers to getting care (e.g. not having health insurance), might make members of many racial and ethnic minority groups especially vulnerable in public health emergencies like outbreaks of COVID-19.

According to McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), 86% of vulnerable jobs in the U.S. are held by low-income workers making less than $40k per year. Even further, previous MGI research found that these jobs have disproportionate concentrations of African Americans, Hispanics, and people with a high-school education or less. These lower-income individuals and families, already living paycheck to paycheck, are now facing reduced wages and unemployment. Many are struggling to make rent or feed their families.

As our nonprofit partners work tirelessly to support those impacted most by COVID-19, we hope our interventions help enable them to reach more people, deploy services and solutions faster, and run more efficiently. Through continued dialogue with them and other touchpoints within our communities, we will remain ready to act and together, help address needs as they evolve over the next phases of the pandemic.

In times of change, moments matter – and now is the moment for us to build a more inclusive future for everyone, starting with those most in need.


Tae Yoo

No Longer with Cisco