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Community engagement

We invest our resources, and our employees invest their time, to positively impact the communities where we live and work.

The success of our business is intertwined with the wellbeing of our communities. We support initiatives and programs that make a difference through our global community engagement program, Ciena Cares. Our community engagement efforts are based on:

  • Being authentic and aligned to our core competencies
  • Engaging and energizing employees
  • Deepening our business partner relationships
  • Promoting our culture internally and externally

ciena cares

Ciena Cares is an important element of our social responsibility program, designed to support individuals’ passions for giving back to the community. Employees can use the Ciena Cares platform to make charitable donations or volunteer, and have these contributions matched by the company and time rewarded.

Thirty Ciena Cares Champions around the world drive our community programs with their local colleagues, including managing specific fundraising and non-profit engagements, creating a network of good around the world.

Our Ciena Cares giving platform is powered by Benevity and the results captured below speak for themselves. As our program matures, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the use of benefits associated with the program, which can be attributed to the new, more intuitive online platform.

ciena cares graphic
total matched giving

In 2020, we added an extra $1 million to our matching budget and introduced a new triple-match and triple-rewards program for donations and volunteering respectively. Our goal was to offer additional support to charities struggling with significant losses of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

total donors

In 2020, the number of volunteers likely decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We introduced virtual volunteering to offer an alternative to face-to-face volunteering.

Highlights of our community support

Large play button overlayAmericas Volunteer Celebration

Team members across 36 countries in the Americas supported the U.N. sustainable development goals of Zero Hunger, No Poverty, Quality Education, Good Health and Wellbeing, Climate Action, Life on Land, and Clean Water and Sanitation in a ‘Go Do Good’ volunteer challenge.

View the Americas Volunteer Celebration video here

Other examples include donations to the United Mission for Relief & Development in Lebanon, and a program with NASSCOM Foundation in India to reskill students in new technologies at Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology and Delhi Technical University.

Visit CienaLife for additional examples of our community engagement.

Culture of service goal

Building on the terrific participation supporting our communities during fiscal 2020, we set our first service-oriented goal that is expressly tied to our corporate incentive bonus plan. We are stepping up our ambitions to give back in 2021, with a corporate bonus goal for our employees to dedicate an aggregate 20,000 hours of their time volunteering in their communities. This is another great example of our People Promise and we hope to make opportunities for meaningful service an increased part of our corporate culture. We believe that through shared service we can increase connectivity with our teams and communities as well as provide an enriching personal experience.

Digital inclusion

People are at the heart of our business. From our world-class employees to our long-term customer and partner relationships, and even in the way we relentlessly pursue network innovation, we are dedicated to enabling greater connectivity so we can help improve the experiences and lives of people around the world. We know that greater digital connection can expand access to more opportunities for more people—especially for students and those who have historically been underserved. This will create exponential benefits, leading to a more inclusive economy and equitable world for us all.

This is why we launched our digital inclusion program E3 in May 2020, committing $10 million over the next five years to Enable greater connectivity, Expand opportunities for 100,000 underserved students, and drive Exponential social impact in the communities where we live and work.


By mobilizing our people, our innovation leadership, and our partners through programs that foster digital access, technology, and skills, we can help underserved students gain access to the opportunities they need to thrive.

And, just like our company, we designed this commitment with people and relationships at the core. Our commitment aims to engage and mobilize our workforce, leverage our innovation leadership, and collaborate with our customers, suppliers, and other partners to bridge the digital divide through innovation solutions and infrastructure. Elements of this program will include:

  • Direct charitable giving by Ciena to organizations aligned to our beliefs
  • Work with established non-profits, foundations, and coalitions to promote digital inclusion and drive outcome-oriented programming
  • Community and volunteer activities involving our employees or business partners
  • In-kind contributions of Ciena solutions or other computing or access devices
  • Support, or seeking the support, of customers and suppliers with similar initiatives that promote these goals
  • Internships/cooperative programs for students in these communities

Below is a summary of some of our digital inclusion initiatives:

Ciena Solutions Challenge

This is an exciting initiative in partnership with Digital Promise to build an open-source challenge library containing carefully constructed challenge-based learning experiences that engage young people in solving a local problem while developing design thinking, computational thinking, and critical thinking skills. The challenges align with the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, encouraging students to address local issues of global importance. The challenge library, piloted in two public schools, will be freely accessible on the web for any school in the world to use. The schools will receive a grant to support the purchase of necessary tools and technology to support student invention and computational thinking, such as micro-controllers, robotics kits, and digital tools.

We will also launch an online platform for teachers to connect and learn throughout their design challenge journey, offering virtual webinars, professional learning experiences, and a community of educators curated and facilitated by Digital Promise.

To energize student participants, we will host the Ciena Challenge Competition, a Ciena-judged event that sparks the creativity and friendly competitive spirit of participating schools—providing awards and recognition that supports the schools’ implementation of their solutions. Our employees will participate as mentors, coaches, or developers of their own challenges for inclusion in the challenge library.

Verizon Innovative Learning

We partnered with Verizon on their Innovative Learning Schools initiative to bridge the digital divide in Title I schools across the United States. With our financial support, Verizon was able to expand its program to two new schools in San Jose, California, and Baltimore, Maryland in 2020. We also provided students at these schools connected tablets and accessories to facilitate their continuous learning despite the challenges of COVID-19. The partnership gives Ciena employees the opportunity to volunteer with the schools.

Bharti Foundation

To equip under-resourced children with the necessary skills for the future, we have partnered with Bharti Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Bharti Enterprises, on two new programs in Punjab and Haryana, India.

  • Digital Classrooms: For young students in rural communities to gain greater exposure to digital learning, the inaugural Digital Classrooms project will use educational technology and devices provided by us to support teaching sessions at ten primary and elementary Satya Bharti schools in Punjab and Haryana. This arrangement will help to ensure classrooms have the latest technology available so that students can build computer skills and be exposed to more immersive learning opportunities.
  • Advanced Technology Labs: To give students a hands-on experience with robotics and gaming at two Satya Bharti Adarsh Senior Secondary Schools in Punjab, we will provide 3D modeling kits and printers, laptops, and resources to hire trainers. This will give students preparing for college, or others looking to move directly into a career in technology, the ability to develop analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills while exercising creativity and teamwork.
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