One hundred women will get the opportunity to relaunch their careers and become cybersecurity professionals in just 100 days. Due to a philanthropic investment of over $160,000 from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the “100 Women in 100 Days” cybersecurity career development program will introduce its first class this summer in Sacramento.

“Women and girls need greater chances to build and demonstrate their skills so that they can drive their careers forward and upward,” said Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies. “In making this gift, I hope that ‘100 Women in 100 Days’ will help close the gender gap and foster inclusion in cybersecurity.”

Inteligenca Inc., a Roseville-based cyber-risk management company, will manage the program and offer free cybersecurity training to all students. “100 Women in 100 Days” will kick off in the Sacramento Valley region, but Inteligenca CEO Carmen Marsh plans to expand the effort nationally. Newmark shares Marsh’s wish to rapidly grow the program in 2020 and beyond.

"We want to make sure that every woman who wants a new opportunity in cybersecurity has the chance to reboot their career,” said Marsh. “We’ll start by training top talent in Sacramento and Northern California, and working with Craig, we will continue to grow until we can train women around the country as fast as they can apply.”

Marsh posted her idea on LinkedIn in October. Within an hour, over 60 women had reached out to express interest in registering for the program. Nearly 200 women have enrolled and currently await their turn. The first class will be certified and licensed as CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker).

In tandem with Allegiant Giving Inc., Marsh has secured trainers, mentors, a class facility and potential employers for the trainees. Companies such as Intel, IBM, Sutter Health, Centene and others will stand by, ready to accept her students into their open internship and apprenticeship positions. 

The cybersecurity workforce not only lacks women but also desperately needs more talent. According to the cybersecurity job-tracking site CyberSeek, there are more than 300,000 cybersecurity jobs open, making the workforce supply “very low.” There are more than 36,000 openings in California alone. Research from Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that women will make up just 20 percent of the workforce by the end of 2019.

Newmark collaborates with several groups to help create opportunities in cybersecurity. Besides this grant, in September 2018, he contributed $1 million to VetsinTech to support the organization's commitment to helping veterans transition into meaningful careers in cybersecurity and tech.

"We are watching the cybersecurity talent pool change, and few have done more to create new opportunities for women and veterans than Craig Newmark," Marsh said. "We're grateful for the support and the stamp of approval from a leader in this societal evolution that will both improve and expand our cybersecurity community."

While the program’s first group has reached full capacity, others interested in joining future classes can enroll online. 

This article first appeared in LinkedIn.