1. Awareness of federal funding priorities for Cyber Workforce Education.
2. Familiarity with Cybersecurity funding trends and the urgency to track funding and apply without delay.
3. Knowledge of recent trends and grant awards for Cybersecurity Workforce Development programs.
“Practicing Due Diligence in Tracking Funding Trends”
The most significant funding trends for 2022 emerged at the July 21 National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit. This event focused on building a national cyber workforce, improving skills-based pathways to cyber jobs, educating Americans to have the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly digital society, and improving Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) in the cyber field. Likely, you’ve already noticed the ThriveDX monthly grant funding opportunities for cybersecurity workforce development include mandatory DEIA requirements for all post-secondary institutions applying for federal grant funding.
The current White House administration announced the following actions that impact post-secondary educational institutions:
Addressing the challenges and opportunities to improve collaboration across government-wide efforts, helping align resources to aspirations, and implementing education and workforce development priorities.
Initiating a 120-day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint aimed at providing individuals with the opportunity to receive the training and mentorship they need to begin a career in the cyber workforce by expanding and promoting cyber-related Registered Apprenticeship programs.
When tracking funding trends for Cybersecurity Education, you must explore the federal grantmaking agencies that have historically set aside funds in their annual budgets to support cyber workforce institutions.
The National Security Agency (NSA)
In 2020, the Regional Coalition for Critical Infrastructure Protection, Education and Practice (ReCIPE), led by Iowa State and the University of Illinois, received a two-year $2 million grant award from the NSA. The Coalition focused on developing a cybersecurity workforce that could protect critical infrastructure from attack—particularly to defend the nation’s electrical grid.
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
In 2021, DOL awarded $16 million in grants to provide IT and cybersecurity workforce development services under their H-1B One Workforce Grant Program. This program invests in training the current and future workforce for careers in critical industries such as IT, advancing manufacturing, and transportation. Two cooperative agreements received the total sum of the award. The first subcontract was based in Virginia to lead the development and implementation of a new program to provide dynamic workforce strategies to train workers and jobseekers for middle-to high-skilled occupations in IT and cybersecurity. The second agreement provided funding to develop similar work-based learning and employment opportunities in IT and cybersecurity for veterans and their spouses in Georgia.
Other Cybersecurity Funding Trends
Some states are creating state-funded initiatives to address issues critical to the state or larger society, including workforce development. In 2022, an Arizona university received a grant from Arizona’s Technology and Research Initiative Fund (voter-supported) to support its nationally renowned Cyber Operations Program.
The National Science Foundation started funding Workforce Development for Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (CyberTraining) in 2022. Multiple Directorates came together to support their competitive grant opportunity. These Directorates included:
· Computer and Information Science and Engineering
· Education and Human Resources
· Mathematical and Physical Sciences
· Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
When you see a funding opportunity to support a new or existing Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program, don’t let too many days pass without talking to your department-level staff, administrators, and your college’s or institution’s educational foundation. Federal grant applications are complex, deadline-driven, and full of research links that must be read multiple times to articulate the best competitive narrative responses. Create a work plan and assign tasks. Attend any pre-submission webinars and frequently communicate with the assigned program officer. Get your institution’s name heard and remembered as much as possible. Connect with federal lobbyists on contract, if applicable, and reach out to your Congressional team members for push-it-through to funding advocacy.
Dr. Bev Browning, CSPF, Director, Grant Writing Training Foundation
Cheryl Townsel, S.M., President, Townsel Consulting, LLC