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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Westminster cybersecurity nonprofit earns grant to expand program offerings in Carroll County

A Westminster nonprofit known for offering workshops and seminars on cybersecurity in the community has been awarded a $100,000 grant that it will use to expand those programs.

The Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, also known as MAGIC, was awarded a Gula Tech Foundation grant of $100,000, as one of four runners-up in the Confidence in Data Care competitive grant competition. The competition focused on nonprofits committed to increasing public cybersecurity awareness.

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“We were really excited when we saw this giant grant opportunity because that’s exactly what we do,” said Graham Dodge, executive director of MAGIC.

MAGIC is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Westminster with a mission to build a tech ecosystem that creates and nurtures talent, entrepreneurship and tech businesses.

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The nonprofit hosts one of the largest Capture the Flag competitions for entry-level beginners who want to learn logical thinking skills and teamwork via a cybersecurity competition. During these competitions teams made up of high school or college students, or individuals in the same age group, compete to solve a series of puzzles that require using hacking tools and coding skills. The answers are short strings of code called flags. The team with the most points earned by capturing flags at the end of the timed competition wins.

MAGIC has held 14 of these competitions that have included more than 1,500 participants.

The nonprofit has also hosted six mini-hackathons, during which teams of high school or college students collaborate on various software development projects.

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Dodge said these competitions are a fun way for young people to easily engage in the world of cybersecurity.

“You don’t have to know a lot on the subject to enjoy the competition,” Dodge said.

Funding from the Gula Tech Foundation will greatly increase MAGIC’s capacity to facilitate cybersecurity education in the county by allowing MAGIC to expand offerings of its Capture the Flags for Teachers workshops and introducing cybersecurity concepts for teachers to incorporate into their classroom curriculum. The foundation was established to broaden the impact of cybersecurity nonprofits.

Monies will also go toward MAGIC’s effort to hold in-school Cyber Clubs, meeting students where they are to provide enriching educational experiences.

Dodge said the group is looking to set up its first physical location on Main Street in Westminster, where it will begin a series of workshops and seminars to introduce cyber concepts to the public. These workshops will include Data Care for Seniors, Data Care for Small Businesses and a lecture series to explore professional opportunities in cybersecurity.

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In addition to the Gula Tech Foundation grant, MAGIC was also recently awarded a $15,000 grant from the Trumpower Foundation, a local trust that supports the community’s needs.

For additional information about the nonprofit, visit http://www.magicinc.org/


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