Maryville University Awarded $435,000 Grant from PNC Foundation

The Protect and Connect program will provide free cyber security training to T-REX and Cortex start-ups and help diverse students learn coding

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Maryville University has announced a new cyber security services and education program, called “Protect and Connect,” with funding support provided through a three-year, $435,000 grant from the PNC Foundation.

A Program for Techs and Children

The Protect and Connect program will deliver significant benefits to technology communities across the St. Louis region. Through the program, local technology start-ups will receive training and cyber security services. In addition, software coding classes will be offered to children in underserved communities.

The Protect and Connect program will help protect important data of companies within the region’s key start-up communities, the Downtown T-REX innovation center and Cortex technology district. It will also connect individuals in both communities through education, mentoring and networking. The program helps set the stage for future investment and growth in the region by supporting the unique group of tech innovators, designers and developers.

“Security is a top concern for our customers, and is a major focus of ours as we work together, building trust with our customers, to keep them secure,” said Michael Scully, PNC regional president for St. Louis. “Our support of Maryville University is a strategic investment to assist in enhancing cyber security along with addressing the changing needs of an increasingly knowledge-based economy and equipping children with skills they can use for years to come.”

A Fusion of Technology and Community, at No Cost

At the heart of the program is Maryville’s new state-of-the-art Cyber Fusion Center. Maryville students working in the Center provide cyber security services at no charge to local non-profits. Under faculty supervision, they gain hands-on experience by monitoring threats and helping to secure client data.

With grant funding, these free services will be made available to all T-REX and Cortex companies.

Patricia Hagen, PhD, president and executive director of T-REX, said, “T-REX places tremendous value on all of its regional university partnerships and the tremendous opportunities these relationships bring to the academic and entrepreneurial communities of St. Louis. We’re excited to collaborate with Maryville University, PNC and our innovation partners at Cortex to expand on our existing cyber initiatives and provide even more services to the St. Louis startup ecosystem.”

Dennis Lower, president and CEO of Cortex, added, “The collaboration of our corporations, universities, and startups is critical to the growth of St. Louis. We are thrilled to partner with PNC Bank, Maryville University and the T-REX community in our continued efforts to support St. Louis’s entrepreneurs.”

Clients will also gain access to a wealth of networking and mentoring opportunities with industry leaders. These include monthly “Tech Talks,” continuing education, conferences, special events and more.

Additionally, a PNC Scholar will be selected each year, awarding one student a half-tuition scholarship of $12,500 at Maryville University.

Maryville University President Mark Lombardi, PhD, said, “Cybersecurity and software coding are areas of tremendous need for individuals, start-ups and major corporations alike. Educating a talented local workforce who can meet these needs, build careers and empower the St. Louis economy is what Maryville University does best.”

Building High Tech Skills for Tomorrow’s Workforce

Also through Protect and Connect, students in underserved communities will learn computer coding skills that can lead to future jobs. This will increase employment opportunities in high demand/high paying tech fields and help local companies fill vacancies in the workforce.

Middle and high school students from Maryville’s partners, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, will be invited to participate. They will learn coding principles and create actual apps for iPhones, iPads and other devices. PNC also will sponsor a Maryville-run coding summer camp for students in the Riverview Gardens School District. The grant will enable 200 students to attend camp for one week on Maryville’s campus each July.

Facebook Live video of the Announcement event:

Thank you STLToday, Fox2Now, and St. Louis Business Journal for your coverage of our good news!

About the PNC Foundation

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence.  The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual, $350 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

About Maryville

Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a comprehensive and nationally ranked private institution with more than 6,800 students. Maryville offers more than 90 degrees at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels to students from 50 states and 55 countries.