CISA awards $2 million to cybersecurity programs for rural and diverse communities

The heads of CISA, NSA and IST also took part in the ShareTheMic campaign to promote diversity in cybersecurity.
Written by Jonathan Greig on

CISA has announced awards of $2 million to two organizations training underserved communities in cybersecurity. 

The funding will go to NPower and CyberWarrior, two programs helping to train veterans, military spouses, women and people of color for cybersecurity positions. These are the first awards of their kind handed out by CISA. 

CISA Director Jen Easterly said addressing the cyber workforce shortage requires the agency to proactively seek out, find and foster prospective talent from nontraditional places. 

"CISA is dedicated to recruiting and training individuals from all areas and all backgrounds with the aptitude and attitude to succeed in this exciting field," Easterly said. "It's not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do -- for the mission and the country. We're best positioned to solve the cyber challenges facing our nation when we have a diverse range of thought, bringing every perspective to the problem."

The organizations are targeting communities with high unemployment as well as those who are underemployed and underserved in both rural and urban areas. 

CISA explained that they are looking to support programs that benefit communities and populations that may not have access to training programs centered around cybersecurity. 

CISA, CyberWarrior and NPower will work with them to "develop a scalable and replicable proof of concept to identify and train talented individuals around the country successfully.

They noted that the effort will help address the "staggering" shortage of cybersecurity talent facing the country. 

"CyberWarrior is honored to take part in the Cybersecurity Workforce Development and Training Pilot for Underserved Communities," said Reinier Moquete, founder of the CyberWarrior Foundation. 

"Working with CISA and other stakeholders, our 28-week Bootcamp program will train persons from underserved populations for a career in cybersecurity. We encourage prospective students, employers and workforce stakeholders to reach out and join us in building opportunities for these individuals."

According to CISA, the three-year program seeks to establish a cybersecurity pathways retention strategy while also providing entry-level cybersecurity training and hands-on professional development experience through apprenticeships.

Bertina Ceccarelli, CEO of NPower, said her organization's cybersecurity program offers young adults and veterans the opportunity to advance their careers and deepen their specialities. 

"This is particularly important for individuals coming from underrepresented communities that systemically lack access to those specialized skills," Ceccarelli said. "We are honored for the support from CISA, which will enable NPower to expand our reach to trainees across the country."

The award is part of a larger effort by CISA and other agencies to diversify the cybersecurity industry. On Friday, Easterly, NSA cybersecurity director Rob Joyce and Institute for Security and Technology CEO Philip Reiner handed their Twitter accounts over to three Black women, who spoke about their experiences in the tech industry while urging other women of color to join in.

CISA has also created a CYBER.org initiative and Cyber Education and Training Assistance Program to promote cybersecurity among young people. 

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