MAY 3, 2023 – shift_ed is thrilled to announce an $8 million gift from tech giant Cisco, the largest gift in the organization’s history. Cisco Chair and CEO Chuck Robbins made the announcement on video during an event Tuesday night at High Point University.

“Cisco is pleased to announce that we have awarded a grant for $8 million to shift_ed over the next four years to directly impact the lives of underserved students in Guilford County,” he shared to the crowd inside the Nido and Mariana Qubein Arena and Conference Center. The event, “An Evening with Henry Kravis,” featured a fireside chat between businessman and philanthropist Henry Kravis and HPU President Dr. Nido Qubein.

The Cisco grant will help shift_ed increase the number of students it serves by at least 10 percent each of the next four years and supports the new shift_ed SEO Scholars program. The partnership will provide shift_ed students access to the Cisco Emerging Talent Mentor Program, and shift_ed will begin hosting career access events to connect students and community members with direct-to-career opportunities in the tech industry.

Among those opportunities is Summer Experience in Tech, a partnership between Cisco, shift_ed, Forsyth Technical Community College and Manpower Group that equips high school graduates with the skills they need for entry-level networking or cybersecurity jobs in just nine weeks. Registration is open now at

“shift_ed’s mission to boldly accelerate student potential and their vision to transform communities through diverse educational and workforce pathways aligns so closely with Cisco’s company purpose, which is to power an inclusive future for all,” says Robbins. “When I also heard that the renowned SEO Scholars program would be piloted in Guilford County with support from shift_ed, I knew we wanted to get involved.”

shift_ed is piloting a hybrid model of the nationally recognized SEO Scholars program. Well established in New York and San Francisco, SEO Scholars gets public high school students to and through college – with a 100 percent college acceptance rate and 90 percent graduation rate. The first cohort of Guilford County ninth graders started the program earlier this spring. 

“Cisco sees the value in shift_ed’s vision and the opportunity that our partnership with SEO brings to this community,” says shift_ed President and CEO Wendy Poteat. “It gives me the push to stay focused on our goals and continue making others believe that the work we are doing can be transformative for students and families.”

The addition of SEO Scholars to shift_ed’s continuum of educational support services is part of a growing effort to better connect with and meet the needs of the business community. Cisco’s gift is just the start of many business partnerships shift_ed hopes to develop in the coming years. 

“I am incredibly excited to see shift_ed’s work in action over the next few years and Cisco is thrilled to play a role in supporting this fantastic organization,” says Robbins. 

About shift_ed

The mission of shift_ed  is to boldly accelerate student potential. With programs impacting elementary through high school shift_ed partners with GCS to provide thousands of hours of tutoring, aptitude assessments, college prep and financial aid workshops and career counseling to students. Thanks to generous community support, shift_ed has awarded more than $12.6 million to GCS graduates since 2016. Scholarship registration is open through July 1, 2023. shift_ed is dedicated to providing diverse educational and workforce pathways to GCS students. 

About Cisco Systems

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Cisco and the Cisco logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cisco and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries. A listing of Cisco’s trademarks can be found at Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. The use of the word partner does not imply a partnership relationship between Cisco and any other company. 

shift_ed boldly accelerates student potential