Security provider Rapid7 has formed a private non-profit foundation to provide grants to organizations involved in science and technology education for cybersecurity careers, diversity and inclusion, volunteering, research and policy advocacy.
The endowed foundation, which is geared to making cybersecurity easier to access for the underrepresented and underserved, has been seeded with an initial $1 million from Rapid7. The fund began making awards in January and handed its first grant to the Institute for Security and Technology (IST) for $50,000 to support the organization’s Ransomware Task Force.
Going forward, the Rapid7 Cybersecurity Foundation will invest in organizations in the following areas, officials said:
- STEM education, diversity and inclusion in technology, and efforts by organizations to make careers in cybersecurity easier to access for all.
- Open source tools and volunteering to help make effective cybersecurity solutions available to under-resourced organizations, including non-profits and municipalities.
- Research and policy advocacy to strengthen cybersecurity for vulnerable communities, improve cybersecurity awareness, and make achieving effective security outcomes more available to all.
Peter Kaes, previously Rapid7’s general counsel, will serve as the inaugural executive director of the foundation and also head up the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts.
“The Foundation’s mission is to democratize cybersecurity by focusing on access for the underrepresented and underserved,” Kaes said in a blog post. “We do this by promoting a diverse and inclusive cybersecurity workforce, supporting free and open security solutions, and advocating for those who often lack a voice in advancing security.”
Following the IST grant, the foundation expects its next awards will support organizations where Rapid7 is already familiar with the needs of the community. The company said it expects to announce these grants in the coming weeks. As a matter of policy, the foundation will not make grants outside of its funding priorities or accept unsolicited funding requests.
Rapid7 has a history of making socially-aware investments, having allocated “millions of dollars” to organizations that support advancement in cybersecurity for underrepresented and underserved individuals and under-resourced entities, Kaes said. He pointed to the 2020 creation of a Donor-Advised Fund with the Tides Foundation, and donations totaling some $300,000 to numerous organizations from the fund.
Later this week, the foundation will deliver its first Social Good Report, which “highlights our broader work advancing social good,” Kaes said.
Universal Cybersecurity Training
Numerous technology companies and associations have been taking steps to help close the cybersecurity gap. For example, Microsoft expanded its cybersecurity skills program to 23 additional countries in March 2022. Around the same time, MSPAlliance partnered with Boise State University and Stellar Cyber to create MSP-specific business, technical, and cybersecurity training, along with job placement tools.