Every year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation honors businesses for their strategic and sustained positive impact on people, communities, the environment, and society.

Cisco is proud to have been selected as the winner for this year’s Citizens Awards, in the Best Commitment to Education Program category, for the Cisco Networking Academy program. This award recognizes a strategic initiative focused on improving educational outcomes for students and one that demonstrates measurable results.

Cisco Networking Academy addresses the growing need for IT talent by equipping students with entry-level technical and 21st-century career skills. Cisco licenses the e-learning curricula, assessments, simulation software, and a learning management platform for free to nonprofit learning institutions. Instructor professional development and experiences like hands-on labs and global competitions are also available. To date we’ve contributed $3 billion in in-kind contributions.

This year we are celebrating 20 years of impact: the program has prepared more than 7.8 million students across 180 countries for IT careers since 1997. Since 2005, 1.6 million participants reported that completing the program helped them obtain a new job.

Networking Academy provides accessible education to students regardless of socio-economic background, location, gender, or career stage, including those in underserved communities like veterans, prisoners, and people with disabilities.

Changing lives

The education we provide has the power to change the trajectory of our students’ lives. From helping them to find work and elevate their careers to transforming their communities. Nuray Guerler was a student who took advantage of the hands-on aspect of the Networking Academy curriculum.

During her CCNA courses, taken at SFZ Förderzentrum Academy in Germany, a vocational training center for people with visual impairments, Nuray learned to solve practical networking tasks and connect routers and equipment in the classroom by touch, memorizing the shape and functions of equipment. She used a screen reader to translate the CCNA course materials into a Braille display, and her instructor read questions and described pictures to her during exams.

Nuray, picture above, passed her certification exam and shortly after registering her profile on a job search site, received an invitation to interview. She got the job and now works as an IT trainer in an engineering office, teaching wherever she is needed – Halle, Leipzig, Dresden, or Chemnitz.

She believes that her CCNA certification was key to her success in getting an interview and recommends the CCNA course and Networking Academy program for anyone who is inspired by the subject, saying: “Handicapped persons have to fulfill 150% to get the same recognition. Networking Academy can only make things better.”

Changing education

The more educators we’ve met, the more they’ve taught us. Today, Cisco Networking Academy schools and educators are at the forefront of new teaching methods and resources, delivering a curriculum that extends beyond technical training to the problem-solving and entrepreneurial skills students need to get a job or create their own businesses.

The Networking Academy curriculum builds a solid digital foundation through courses like Networking Essentials, Cybersecurity Essentials, and Programming Essentials in C++, and focuses on collaborative learning to develop deeper, transferrable problem-solving skills.

For Bhaskar Gandhavadi, pictured left, IT training became more than an occupational need; it was his life’s work. For 30 years, he volunteered to teach IT skills in his home state of Telangana, India, but with 100,000 yearly graduates from 240 colleges, only six percent were employable in IT.

Bhaskar was chosen to lead the Telangana Academy of Skills & Knowledge (TASK), a government-sponsored nonprofit, to search for a solution. At Bhaskar’s urging, TASK teamed up with Cisco Networking Academy to provide the software, hardware, teaching tools, infrastructure, and financial backing to modernize the state’s IT curriculum. In the program’s first year, 20 colleges, 2000 students, and 45 instructors participated.

Of the program, Bhaskar said, “Most of my students are from underdeveloped communities but hope for a better life, and the Networking Academy has really helped with that.” The students of Telangana now have the skills and the confidence to find higher paying tech jobs right out of school, changing their lives and their communities.

Changing futures

For 20 years, Cisco Networking Academy has inspired people to take on the trends, technologies, and challenges of changing the world. Networking Academy has broken an all-male hiring cycle in Sri Lanka, helped an at-risk teenager in Monterrey, Mexico escape the influence of gang and drug violence, and given a single mother and former hospitality industry worker the skills to change her life and become an engineer.

Here’s to 20 years of impact.

To learn more, visit www.netacad.com/twenty.


Tae Yoo

No Longer with Cisco