Written By Stillman College
Stillman College has formed a strategic partnership with Google to advance cybersecurity education and community outreach.
The collaboration was unveiled Wednesday in a high-profile ceremony on the Stillman College campus, attended by key leaders, including Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, Melonie Parker, and Stillman College President, Dr. Yolanda Page.
Central to this partnership is a substantial grant of $500,000, supplemented by additional programmatic support, from Google’s Cybersecurity Clinics Fund. This funding is earmarked to cultivate a diverse cadre of cybersecurity professionals and to bolster the cyber defense measures of surrounding community organizations.
University Cybersecurity Clinics provide free security services in the same way law or medical schools offer free clinics in their communities. They also give Stillman students the opportunity to learn and improve their skills, while helping to protect critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and energy grids.
Stillman College will use Google’s grant to help offer free cybersecurity services to community organizations and small businesses in the mid-south, particularly minority-owned businesses in Alabama and Tennessee, to hire students from diverse backgrounds to work in the clinic through internships, provide scholarships for clinic courses, and to mentor HBCUs as they launch cyber clinics in their own communities.
“We are appreciative to Google for its support and for recognizing Stillman’s Cybersecurity Center as one that can truly make a difference in fighting these threats right here at home,” said Dr. Kevin Harris, Stillman’s Executive Director of Cybersecurity DEI Clinic. “We look forward to the impact this grant will have on our students and in our communities, specifically for those public infrastructure organizations with limited resources, including non-profits, hospitals, local government agencies and small businesses.”
Cyber-attacks increased by 38% globally in 2022 and have cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars over the past five years. Despite the need for more Cybersecurity professionals, there are currently more than 650,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., including more than 11,000 openings in the state of Alabama. Additionally, there is a need to improve diversity in the industry, as only 9% of its workforce is Black. As one of 107 colleges in the U.S. identified as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and the only HBCU that is currently a member of the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics, Stillman is poised to continue building a pipeline of more diverse cybersecurity talent.
“These clinics have been designed to provide the next generation of professionals with the tools and resources they need to succeed in the ever-growing field of cybersecurity,” said Royal Hansen, Google’s Vice President of Privacy, Safety, and Security Engineering. “We’re proud to lend a hand to help grow a strong security workforce responsible for strengthening and protecting our infrastructure for years to come.”
The funding from Google.org — the company’s philanthropic arm — is part of a $20 million collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics that Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, announced in June of this year. In addition to grant funding, Google is offering Stillman volunteer mentorship from Google employees, Titan Security Keys, and scholarships for the new Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity.
“A diverse cybersecurity workforce is simply better equipped to handle the challenges of the industry. When we have people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences, we get a wider range of ideas and solutions,” said Melonie Parker, Google’s Chief Diversity Officer. “As an alumna of Hampton University, it gives me great pride to continue Google’s long-standing partnership with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and support Stillman’s pioneering cybersecurity clinic program.”