Craig Newmark Philanthropies Pledges $50 Million to Cyber Civil Defense

Craig Newmark Philanthropies (CNP) announced on Monday that it has committed to donating more than $50 million total to support a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to educating and protecting Americans amid escalating cybersecurity threats. The grants from CNP, the charitable network of craigslist founder Craig Newmark, will focus on building the civic infrastructure, policy frameworks, and digital tools necessary to support what Newmark calls a “cyber civil defense” effort to bolster American national and global security in the face of new threats.

CNP’s funding will support efforts to raise public awareness of threats and online security choices, in addition to the creation of online tools and digital infrastructure that help secure the country’s networks. The effort will also include programming aimed at developing a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workforce capable of meeting the technical challenges ahead.

"American and western democracy are at risk,” said Craig Newmark. “As individuals, we're also under attack. We need to work together to protect each other and democratic ideals in the digital world."

This effort is part of Newmark's long-standing commitment to supporting digital security. CNP has already awarded more than $30 million in recent years to organizations involved in the initiative, including Black Girls Hack, Girls Who Code, R Street’s Making Space Initiative Shadowserver, the Stanford Internet Observatory, the Technology and Social Change Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School, VetsInTech, and Wikipedia. The organization aims to give the remaining $20 million in the next year.

Grants announced this week include resources for Consumer Reports, the Global Cyber Alliance, and the Ransomware Task Force at the Institute of Security and Technology.

CNP’s Cyber Civil Defense effort will be managed by the Aspen Institute’s digital and technology program, Aspen Digital. Newmark is already personally involved in the effort to curate tools, programs, and customer service offerings modeled after some of the approaches that have helped make craigslist an enduring corner of the internet for more than two decades.

This new push around Cyber Civil Defense will focus heavily on:

  • Cyber education for people who need to protect their homes, who want to help protect their businesses, and who will protect the country. Engaging with community groups and institutions will help meet people where they are in developing their cybersecurity literacy and acumen.
  • Measures to provide cybersecurity career opportunities for everyone, regardless of background. It is imperative to grow the workforce in an inclusive manner to meet the demand for cyber positions and tackle the heightened threat landscape.
  • Recommendations for and development of the cybersecurity tools and services that people and companies need to protect themselves, their businesses, and their communities
  • Measures to ensure an evolving focus on usability and good customer service for tools and services. A tool or service’s effectiveness is only as good as its usability, accessibility, and integration with other offerings.
  • Championing those efforts within government and Big Tech who contribute to equitable cybersecurity. Placing a spotlight on positive practices will help shift the narrative about how the country sees cybersecurity challenges.

“Craig’s philanthropic commitments have been critical to making progress on some of the most pressing issues today in cybersecurity,” said the Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative Director, Kelly Born. “Cybersecurity, and tech policy generally, affect every aspect of our society, and the funds Craig is providing are sorely needed. These large-scale investments should serve as a powerful way to encourage the broader philanthropic community and organizations across sectors to think about how they can support greater cybersecurity for users everywhere.”

“Craig’s incredible generosity, and his continued focus on efforts to help protect our nation from cyber threats gives true meaning to collective cyber defense. Investment in cyber education and cyber resilience has never been more important,” said Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Jen Easterly. “Protecting our nation from cyber attacks must be a collaborative endeavor that ensures that all Americans have the information and the tools to protect themselves; it will take continued commitment and partnership among government, the private sector, and the philanthropic community to make our nation safer.”

About Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Craig Newmark is a Web pioneer, philanthropist, and leading advocate. Most commonly known for founding the online classified ads service craigslist, Newmark works to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. In 2016, he founded Craig Newmark Philanthropies to advance people and grassroots organizations that are "getting stuff done" in areas that include trustworthy journalism & the information ecosystem, food insecurity, voter protection, women in technology, and veterans & military families. At its core, all of Newmark's philanthropic work helps to strengthen American democracy by supporting the values that the country aspires to - fairness, opportunity, and respect. For more information, please visit: Craig can be found sharing his personal perspective on the issues of the day at @craignewmark.