In celebration of Black History Month, Acting National Cyber Director Kemba Walden hosted a roundtable today at the White House entitled “The State of Cybersecurity in the Black Community.” Guests from the cybersecurity ecosystem, including non-profits, academia, the private sector, government, and community advocates, discussed access to good-paying jobs, growth of small, disadvantaged businesses, and the advancement of economic security for Black communities.
U.S. Government participants included Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, White House Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement; Camille Stewart Gloster, Deputy National Cyber Director for Technology and Ecosystem Security; and senior representatives from the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, and The National Science Foundation.
This event further demonstrated the Biden-Harris Administration’s continuing and unwavering commitment to advancing equity and racial justice for all communities. President Biden signed Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, on his first day in office and reaffirmed the Administration’s commitment earlier this month in a new Executive Order, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Though the Federal Government.
Following opening remarks, participants received a series of topical briefings on the Administration’s approach to cybersecurity workforce issues, tools and tactics to combat cyber risks, and advocacy strategies to advance thoughtful policymaking. The participants then engaged in a roundtable discussion, moderated by Deputy National Cyber Director Camille Stewart Gloster, providing their insights on inequities in technological innovation, strategies to enhance security and economic prosperity in cyber for Black communities, and proposals for opportunities for meaningful change through collaboration.
In connection with the event, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the following actions:
The Department of Labor will allocate approximately $90 million for projects that increase apprenticeship opportunities in cybersecurity and other critical industries for underrepresented populations, including the Black community. The Department will begin soliciting project proposals in early March through open funding opportunities.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced $1.5 million in supplemental funding to support, identify, and implement strategies that have been shown to be effective in attracting, retaining, and graduating students who identify as women, Black, African American, Latino(a), Hispanic, or Indigenous in cybersecurity advanced degree programs. In addition, NSF announced the Jump Start in Cyber Program for Students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs), a no-cost, six-week cybersecurity program targeting undergraduate students who attend HBCUs and PBIs.
The Department of Commerce highlighted the work of the Connecting Minority Communities Program, which is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative that will connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable high-speed Internet. The program specifically directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), for the purchase of broadband Internet access and eligible equipment, or to hire and train information technology personnel.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) pledged to incorporate cybersecurity content into outreach and engagement programs including those that support Black entrepreneurs and small businesses. These engagement programs include SBA’s alliance with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, SBA Community Navigators, SBA Cybersecurity for Small Business Pilot grant program and the SBA Cyber Summit which launches in October 2023.
In connection with the event, additional participants announced the following actions:
Craig Newmark, Founder – Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, pledged to increase his commitment from $50 million to $100 million to support a broad coalition of organizations dedicated to educating and protecting Americans amid escalating cybersecurity threats. Newmark has donated more than $60 million dollars to organizations focused on raising public awareness of threats and online security choices, in addition to the creation of online tools and digital infrastructure that help secure the country’s networks. Newmark’s donations will continue to advance nonprofit cybersecurity and education organizations such as Black Girls Hack, the National Cybersecurity Association #SeeYourselfInCyber HBCU Tour, National Black Journalists Association, Black Girls Code, and Girl Scouts.
Claudia Walker – Educator and Author of “ABCs of HBCUs,” committed to developing a cybersecurity-focused book for kids. The book series is called “The ABCs of Cybersecurity” and will teach children and their guardians about digital citizenship, how to stay safe online, and different career paths in the field of cybersecurity. Leaders from Black Girls in Cyber, Blacks in Cyber, and #ShareTheMicInCyber will partner and support content development.
Drew Bagley, Vice President & Counsel, Privacy & Cyber Policy – CrowdStrike, committed to launching a joint initiative with key partners that will empower and create career opportunities for the Nation’s next generation of cybersecurity policy professionals through impactful programming and education connecting minority students and young professionals in the Black community with today’s cybersecurity leaders.
Justin Price, Director, Partnerships & Special Initiatives – National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), committed to expanding opportunities for Black Americans in the cybersecurity industry through the upcoming HBCU Scholarship Program. Established in partnership with One In Tech, an ISACA Foundation, the initiative will support individuals currently underrepresented in the industry by ensuring equitable access and advancement in cybersecurity and tech careers. The new program will expand upon NCA’s recently launched HBCU Career Program that aims to equip students with the necessary skills to navigate the search process for positions in security, privacy and risk.
Rob Duhart, Vice President & Deputy CISO – Walmart, committed to increased HBCU cyber investment; continued support of STEAM organizations focused on the Black community; and long-term investment in partnerships to advance cyber awareness and training across the Black and BIPOC communities, including with non-profit organizations such as Black Girls in Cyber, Black Girls Hack, Blacks in Cyber, Information Technology Senior Management Forum (ITSMF), and Cyversity. Walmart also announced the removal of the college degree requirement for information security positions, regardless of seniority, which will help improve opportunity for all.
Nicole Tisdale, Principal – Advocacy Blueprints, announced the creation of the Cyber Policy Leadership Institute for racially diverse undergraduate and graduate students, with a particular focus on HBCU, MSI, and TCU students. The leadership institute aims to provide students with opportunities to learn and engage on U.S. and international cybersecurity public policy. The institute will help students and the entire cyber community begin to view policies through a racial equity lens to create solutions that address the evolving cyber threats, while empowering participation from historically underserved and underrepresented communities. Over the coming months, Advocacy Blueprints will announce recruitment plans, programming, and additional partners.