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NetHope Digital Breakthrough Initiative Drives Impact in First Year with Generous Support from Cisco

Five-Year Initiative Drives Emergency Preparedness, Supports Nonprofit Digital Protection, and Climate Collaborations in Partnership with the Nonprofit Sector.

August 3, 2023

By Molly Gascoigne, NetHope's Chief Partnerships and Philanthropy Officer

The Digital Breakthrough Initiative passed an important milestone by completing year one of a multi-year partnership between NetHope and Cisco. The partnership between Cisco and NetHope started when Cisco became a co-founder of NetHope in 2001, and affirms Cisco’s role as a champion of technology-based solutions that positively impact people, society, and the planet, which are provided through funding, products, and expertise generously made available to NetHope and our Members.

The Digital Breakthrough Initiative has driven significant innovation and impact in its first year. The Initiative focuses on evolving connectivity-as-aid for people affected by climate change-related emergencies, and on seeding next-generation climate collaboratives and digital solutions in climate-affected communities in the more than 190 countries where NetHope Members operate locally. It also enhances shared nonprofit cybersecurity capabilities, bolstering NetHope’s core capacity to better support Members, and scaling up the NetHope Community’s collective ability in the face of cybercrime to help preserve program continuity for the 1.67 billion vulnerable people served by the NetHope Membership.

"Cisco had the foresight 22 years ago to play a catalytic role in the creation of NetHope, which has gone on to help our Member nonprofits around the world help more people in more places through the power of digital, data, and tech sector partnerships. Today they are playing a similar role as they’ve invested in seeding the next generation of NetHope’s programming and services, strategically enabling the next generation of impact in humanitarian relief, long term development, and global conservation through nonprofit Member participation in NetHope." - Lance Pierce, CEO, NetHope

"Cisco’s corporate purpose is to power an inclusive future for all; we see partnerships like the Digital Breakthrough Initiative as critical to fulfilling this purpose. NetHope is uniquely positioned to build the digital skills and capacity of the international development, conservation, and humanitarian sectors. We are excited to see the early traction and impact from the partnership’s first year and look forward to seeing what we can collectively achieve in the years to come." – Erin Connor, Director, Cisco Crisis Response

Powering Life-Saving Relief Efforts and Access to Resources Through Connectivity

NetHope and Cisco believe in the important role connectivity plays in strengthening people, organizations, and communities recovering from disasters. NetHope’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Program supports our Members in the field, so they can focus on critical mission delivery without interruption. Accessible and stable internet connectivity is often impacted in disasters and faces surge demand because of large global response and residents seeking relief. Access to reliable internet allows people to contact loved ones, access safe shelter, and find assistance while powering direct Member services. In the first year of the Digital Breakthrough Initiative, NetHope’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Program capability expanded and the impact was felt worldwide: 171 individuals were trained in disaster response, NetHope’s Rapid Response Roster increased, and emergency assessments and deployments took place in the United States and Mexico, the Philippines, Ukraine, Pakistan, and Türkiye with over 94 network installations and 43 emergency coordination meetings held. In addition, NetHope convened the Connectivity and Infrastructure, Emergency Preparedness and Response, and Sustainable Energy Working Groups for NetHope Members to share resources and collaborate.

Extending Protection of Vulnerable People to the Digital World

Cyberattacks targeting nonprofits are exponentially growing, and in today’s digitally enabled world, cyberattacks quickly turn into physical harm. NetHope’s comprehensive Digital Protection Program supports global humanitarian nonprofits against rapidly rising sector-wide cybersecurity threats. Over the past year, through the Digital Breakthrough Initiative, NetHope has helped its global-scale Members improve their cybersecurity programs by tackling challenges as broad as incident response, infosec strategy, governance, multi-jurisdictional issues, cybersecurity team building, and zero trust architecture. This is achieved through a direct consultative vCISO service as well as via scholarships to industry standard training. In addition, the Digital Protection Grant Fund was launched, education delivered through Chapter Meetings and Global Summit sessions, and over 40 institutions, NetHope Members and NetHope partners were engaged in the Global Humanitarian ISAC design process. NetHope hosts one of the largest cybersecurity collaboration spaces for INGOs where the Information Security Working Group contains more than 200 staff from INGOs whose primary focus or interest is in cybersecurity.

Reducing the Impact of Climate Change on Vulnerable People Through Digital Technologies

In the first year of the Digital Breakthrough Initiative, NetHope established a new Climate Intersections Program with a mission to leverage the reach of the NetHope community via digital, data, and partnerships to help more people thrive in the face of climate change. NetHope believes that collective action is the way to fight this crisis. NetHope humanitarian, development, and conservation Members and their ecosystems, thematic programs, local communities, and NetHope partners are at the core of the program. During this period Members and partners consulted on strategies and digital solutions for their climate programs, the Climate Strategy Framework and Climate Adaptation Assessment whitepapers were published, climate sessions were held at the Global Summit, and the Climate Intersections Working Group was launched to ensure NetHope Members could share resources and find opportunities for collective action.

All this, and more, has been made possible through Cisco’s generous support of the Digital Breakthrough Initiative. NetHope remains grateful and energized by Cisco’s belief in our mission. While we have made tremendous strides in the first year, we look forward to the collective difference we will accomplish in the next four. We are just getting started!

Stay tuned for future updates on the Digital Breakthrough Initiative. To get involved, or for more information, click here.

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