May 30, 2024

Today in America’s Southwest, National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. visited Arizona to share how President Biden’s Investing In America Agenda and work underway by the Biden-Harris Administration are supporting Arizona’s cybersecurity ecosystem. The Biden-Harris Administration’s policies are helping bring good-paying cyber jobs to all Americans, especially Hispanic Americans who have been traditionally underrepresented in the cyber workforce.

On Thursday in Tucson, Arizona, Director Coker continued his nationwide Cybersecurity Workforce and Education Roadshow meeting with students, faculty, and leadership at Pima Community College (Pima CC) and the University of Arizona. These institutions have been strong partners in building a pipeline of cybersecurity professionals with education starting as early as middle school. For many years, these institutions have partnered to create meaningful pathways for students to begin their cybersecurity careers in middle school with a pathway through community college and onto a bachelor’s degree.

After meeting with Pima CC’s leadership, Director Coker toured its student-run data center, Cyber Security Operations Center, and Arizona Cyber Warfare Range. In line with President Biden’s National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy released last July, Director Coker saw firsthand how a focus on skills-based, real world, hands-on learning opportunities positions students at a significant advantage in the workforce. Both Pima CC and the University of Arizona have earned the National Security Agency’s Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity designation.

Pima CC and the University of Arizona are Federally-designated Hispanic-serving Institutions and Hispanic Americans make up over 25% of the student body at each institution. Providing strong cyber educational programs within Hispanic communities helps to expand cyber workforce opportunities for individuals who have historically been underrepresented in these good-paying jobs.

Director Coker met with 10 Pima CC students to hear about their journeys to cyber careers. He gained firsthand perspectives from Latino and Latina students, veterans, single parents, and first-generation college students, all of whom have chosen to study cybersecurity.

During the visit, Director Coker celebrated the collaboration between the two institutions on CyberNet Middle Grades Expansion Accelerator. CyberNet is a career technical education program, funded by the Department of Education in collaboration with several other Federal agencies, which aims to increase the number of teachers who can effectively prepare students for cybersecurity careers.

“While slightly more than 21,000 Arizonans are currently employed in cyber careers; last year, we had more than half a million vacant cyber jobs nationwide – 9,200 of which are in Arizona and almost 1,000 of those open jobs are here in the Tucson region,” said National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. “To secure our nation’s cyberspace, we need to make cyber jobs more available and attainable for groups that traditionally haven’t been represented in the cyber workforce. Today I was delighted to hear from students and faculty absolutely committed to protecting the Nation and their community in our increasingly digital world.”

The Director’s full remarks are available here.

Director Coker also highlighted how the use of Federal investments support new state-wide initiatives like the Arizona Department of Homeland Security (AZDOHS)’s Cyber Readiness Program, which provides $10 million for rural school districts, local Governments, and tribes throughout the state.

During the visit, Assistant National Cyber Director Seeyew Mo and Pima CC student, Veronica Kyles, led two panels focused on challenges and unique career opportunities for students and employers in the cyber workforce, and best practices in the effort to build pathways for more Americans to have careers and gain good-paying jobs in cybersecurity.

President Biden’s Investing In America Agenda has delivered significant funding to Arizona, including:

  • $993 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) to help provide access to high-speed internet across the state. In addition, about 347,000 households in Arizona are enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program, with more signing up every day. Households can check their eligibility, sign up, and find fully covered internet plans at; 
  • $11 million through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC) to help colleges and institutions that serve minority and tribal communities;
  • $30.2 million for a Regional Middle Mile Fiber Optic Ring to ensure that affordable, reliable, and accessible high-speed broadband services can be accessed through a 134-mile, contiguous, open-access fiber network ring surrounding the outer area of greater Tucson, Arizona and surrounding rural communities; and
  • $6.7 million for the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program to address cybersecurity risks and cybersecurity threats to information systems that the state owns or operates.

Additionally, since President Biden took office, companies have committed to investing over $58 billion in Arizona.

Commitments from the public and private sector are vital to building the cyber workforce that America needs. Building on more than 100 commitments from public and private sector organizations across the country, ONCD is committed to elevating solutions that model best practices and highlight exceptional opportunities to support good-paying cyber careers for all Americans. Today, ONCD was pleased to announce an additional commitment that will deliver academic scholarships nationwide to more students interested in joining the cyber workforce.

The DoD Cyber Service Academy (DoD CSA), formerly the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program, provided scholarship offers to more than 165 Americans in 2024 and aims to maintain this 17% increase per year. These scholarships assist the U.S. Government in promoting higher education in all cyber disciplines, enhance DoD’s ability to recruit and retain cyber specialists, increase the number of military and civilian personnel in the DoD with cyber expertise, and ultimately enhance the nation’s cyber posture. The program is a result of commitments from DoD and Congress to support higher education as a means to prepare the DoD workforce to combat threats against the Department’s critical information system and networks.

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