CYBER.ORG has announced the kickoff of a new pilot program created to recruit a diverse body of K-12 students to pursue undergraduate cybersecurity degrees and bolster the U.S. cybersecurity workforce. Through a $250,000 grant provided by the National Security Agency (NSA), CYBER.ORG will develop a K-12 feeder program for Grambling State University (GSU) in Northern Louisiana, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and the first university in the state to create a cybersecurity undergraduate degree. The goal is to replicate this model between school districts and HBCU’s across the country.
This project aims to address the lack of diversity in the cybersecurity workforce, which is due uneven and unequal access to K-12 cybersecurity education. A recent EducationWeek study revealed students in small and high-poverty school districts are significantly less likely to be exposed to cybersecurity education, resulting in lower-income and minority students having significantly less entrance to this critical field of study.
CYBER.ORG will integrate its state approved curricula into both Huntington High School and Southwood High School’s course offerings to raise students’ foundational and technical skills in cybersecurity and increase interest in GSU’s freshmen enrollment, specifically in cybersecurity. CYBER.ORG has also hired veteran educator Willie Henderson as a Cyber Education Specialist to support teachers across the district with CYBER.ORG professional development.
“There is an urgent need to solve the cybersecurity workforce gap, but a problem of this scale requires an innovative approach to recruiting and training future cybersecurity professionals of diverse backgrounds,” said Kevin Nolten, Director of Academic Outreach at CYBER.ORG. “This program harnesses the power of both the high school and university community to provide students with the support they need to succeed in cybersecurity careers. We’re proud to kickoff of this effort and look forward to partnering with other HBCUs around the country to grow the cybersecurity talent pipeline in communities across the country.”
As the leading provider of K-12 cybersecurity education, CYBER.ORG implements programs that encourage students of all backgrounds to pursue cybersecurity in order to fill the global cybersecurity workforce shortage, which is projected to reach 1.8 million unfilled positions by 2022.
“Our partnership with CYBER.ORG will be central to introducing more students at the high school level to the possibility of pursuing cybersecurity degrees and careers,” said Grambling State University President, Rick Gallot. “This initiative is critical to ensuring that all students regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status have equal opportunity to enter the cybersecurity field. We’re confident that other HBCUs and universities around the country will implement similar models with their own regional high schools.”
“Currently less than half of all school classrooms across the U.S. offer cybersecurity education,” said Dr. Lamar Goree, Caddo Parish School Superintendent. “This partnership will be critical to changing that statistic and ensuring that our high school students can pursue cybersecurity degrees and careers. Our partnership with Grambling State and CYBER.ORG is a wonderful investment in our students’ futures.”
CYBER.ORG is currently seeking additional HBCU partners to participate in similar pilot programs to be replicated across the country. To learn more about how to get involved, visit: www.cyber.org/hbcu