October 28, 2021

Yvonne Cartwright
Whatcom Community College
(360) 383-3312

Whatcom Community College NCyTE Center receives $1.5 million Microsoft Philanthropies grant for “Accelerating Community College Cybersecurity Excellence”

Whatcom Community College (WCC) in Bellingham, WA, and the college’s National Cybersecurity Training & Education Center (NCyTE), have received a grant to rapidly increase the capacity of the national cybersecurity education workforce. The three-fold focus will be on preparing institutions through cybersecurity program development, ultimately for Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation; preparing and diversifying cybersecurity faculty at colleges, and providing resources, mentorship, and partnership to colleges in support of cybersecurity program development. Program, faculty, and resource development are critical to this workforce development and capacity building effort.

"As we are continuing to see, the threat to cybersecurity not only nationally but worldwide, is a persistent and invasive issue across all sectors. Organizations are struggling to find the talent they need to protect themselves. Only through strong funding partnerships can we successfully meet the challenges that will continue to exist by preparing a strong cybersecurity workforce”, said Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, President of Whatcom Community College.

The award strongly leverages existing NCyTE partnerships across the country and forges new partnerships with Microsoft TechSpark communities, rural-serving colleges, and tribes. Through these collaborations, NCyTE will impact hundreds of faculty and thousands of students at community colleges across the country through trainings, workshops, and access to Microsoft tools and opportunities.

"One of the keys to addressing the significant cybersecurity workforce gap is through helping community colleges to start or improve their cybersecurity programs, expand and enhance faculty training, and increase program diversity. NCyTE's partnership with Microsoft will increase access to substantial additional resources that can help to address this capacity building challenge”, according to Corrinne Sande, Director of NCyTE and Computer Sciences and Information Systems at WCC.

Kate Behncken, Vice President and Lead of Microsoft Philanthropies, states, “More than one out of every 20 open jobs in America today is a job that requires cybersecurity skills, and this number is expected to increase in the years ahead. We must invest in helping the nation’s community colleges train more faculty, access industry-aligned curriculum, and skill more students to help close the cybersecurity workforce gap. By empowering and supporting schools to accelerate cybersecurity education, we can help organizations in the public and private sector across the US hire the talent they need to secure their data and digital systems against increased cyberattacks.”

“My experience in the cybersecurity bachelor of applied science degree program at WCC was lifechanging. Flexible classes and tutors supported me as a full-time working adult; I made connections to peers and future colleagues through clubs, events, and engagement by teachers. I experienced a variety of cutting-edge experiences in cyber, more than just a lecture. The program laid the foundation for my success in any area of cyber I chose to pursue, leaving me with a wide variety of options. Whatcom’s cybersecurity grants made many of these program “enhancements” possible and affordable. The College provides excellent value out of the smaller class sizes and lower tuition rate, making it more accessible to the community,” according to Josephine Hollandbeck, WCC Cybersecurity Program alumni.

About NCyTE: The National Cybersecurity Training & Education (NCyTE) Center is funded by the National Science Foundation. NCyTE's mission is to increase the quantity and quality of the cybersecurity workforce throughout the nation. NCyTE Center is based in Bellingham, WA at Whatcom Community College. For more information visit

About WCC: Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, WA is regularly recognized as one of the top community colleges in the nation for student outcomes. The College, a destination for cybersecurity, healthcare and business studies, offers two bachelor of applied science degrees, transfer degrees, career and workforce preparation, online courses, and community education classes. New high school graduates, laid-off workers, seasoned employees, future university students — all students count on WCC to support their academic and career goals. For more information, visit

About Microsoft Corporation: Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. It’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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