SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Funding from the federal government will soon be on the way for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to bolster scientific programs.
The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, passed by the U.S. Senate and House, includes a piece of legislation introduced by Sen. Jon Ossoff to provide more funding for cybersecurity training at HBCUs and other minority-serving schools.
“Cybersecurity is a key and growing field with a shortage of qualified workers,” Ossoff told News 3. “By some estimates, one of 20 unfilled jobs in the country are in cybersecurity. These are threats to our privacy as individuals and as families, these are threats to our economy especially the small businesses and critical infrastructure and these are threats to our national security.”
A study from Norton Security shows someone falls victim to a cyber attack every 39 seconds, resulting in more than 2,000 hacks every day.
The Cybersecurity Opportunity Act, introduced by the senator last year, will create a grant that requires 50% of the funds to go to minority-serving schools, as well as those that serve a high proportion of Pell Grant recipients.
“These are good-paying jobs and I want to make sure lower income folks who are at colleges and universities where they’re on financial aid and students at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities have opportunities to get training in this field,” Ossoff said.
It’s currently a $150 billion industry, expected to double in value over the next five years.
Also under the CHIPS Act, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock secured $80 billion in funding for HBCUs to strengthen scientific research, which professors say will create more opportunities for students.
“When we have those funds here available to our students, it allows for us to be able to better serve them — to serve their needs as well as to serve their futures,” said Dr. Teresa Shakespeare, a professor at Savannah State University.
Shakespeare explained minority or low-income students face a number of barriers trying to break into STEM fields.
“Financial capital is a large issue that affects many individuals from many backgrounds,” the professor said. “But in particular, lots of our students come to us and they don’t have financial capital. Also, cultural capital, not having individuals that have done what they’re trying to do.”
While Shakespeare said the additional resources are a step in the right direction, there is more work to be done to diversify STEM. She said funding from the government is critical in helping to open more doors to students.