June 20, 2024

Today in Tulsa, Oklahoma, National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. shared how President Biden’s Investing In America Agenda is supporting the city of Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma’s cyber workforce ecosystem. Hosted by Black Tech Street and the University of Tulsa (“TU”), Director Coker met with university leadership and cybersecurity undergraduate students, as well as local Government, business, and community leaders.

Reflecting on both the Juneteenth Federal holiday and Tulsa’s historic Black Wall Street, Director Coker focused on the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies, which are helping bring good-paying cyber jobs to all Americans, including African Americans who have been traditionally underrepresented in the cyber workforce.

To begin the day, University of Tulsa President Brad Carson hosted Director Coker in a meeting with TU administration leaders and representatives from Black Tech Street. With funding support from Microsoft, Black Tech Street and the University of Tulsa, which is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, have partnered to conduct pilot studies in cyber research and experiential learning that leverage cutting-edge technology from Microsoft’s investments in generative AI cybersecurity to better position Tulsa’s ecosystem in cyber-AI innovation. This partnership models how the private sector, higher education institutions, and community-based non-profit organizations can collaborate to enhance the cyber workforce.

Later in the day, Dr. Sujeet Shenoi, TU Professor of Computer Science and Chemical Engineering, led Director Coker on a tour of the National Computer Forensics Institute (“NCFI”), which has been operated by the U.S. Secret Service since 2008. Tulsa’s NCFI includes labs where students receive hands-on, skills-focused training that complements their education and provides a vital service. 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 with a significant advantage in the workforce.

During the visit, Director Coker participated in a public event at Oklahoma State University — Tulsa, where he offered remarks that celebrated the Juneteenth holiday and recognized Tulsa’s historic Black Wall Street. Addressing community, business, and higher education leaders, he highlighted how the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in Oklahoma to rebuild infrastructure, support economic development, and create good-paying, meaningful jobs for all Americans, especially traditionally underrepresented groups. Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa District 1 City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper joined Director Coker as speakers at the event.

“I am aware that today I stand on sacred ground, addressing you within the historic Greenwood District here in Tulsa. Today, I’ll have the opportunity to visit the site of Black Wall Street, a space where African Americans – for many generations following the Civil War – thrived,” said Director Coker. “More than 100 years after their work began to create not only a self-sustaining business district, but economic opportunity and generational wealth, we stand here on their shoulders. And we are here again, looking to innovation. And to hope. Their fearless example is what we remember and what we allow to inspire us today.”

The Director’s full remarks are available here.

To conclude his day in Tulsa, Director Coker led a cyber-ecosystem roundtable focused on Tulsa’s challenges and unique opportunities to train and hire job seekers in the cyber workforce and identify best practices in the effort to build pathways for more Americans to have careers and gain good-paying jobs in cyber. While slightly more than 9,000 Oklahomans are currently employed in cyber careers, there are over 4,100 open cyber jobs in Oklahoma. Over 700 of those open jobs are based in the Tulsa region.

President Biden’s Investing In America Agenda has delivered $2 billion in funding for affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet in Oklahoma, including:

  • $797 million through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) to help provide access to high-speed Internet across the state. In addition, about 351,000 households in Oklahoma 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 GetInternet.gov; 
  • $210.5 million through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to support tribal Governments in bringing high-speed Internet to tribal lands, including telehealth, distance learning, affordability, and digital inclusion initiatives;
  • $3.7 million through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC) to help colleges and institutions that serve minority and tribal communities;
  • $9.9 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 $4 billion in Oklahoma.

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.

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