Stillman among 20 institutions eligible for Google cyber funding

A Indian man that works for Google speaks to a group of people

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College participated Thursday as, Google’s philanthropic arm, announced a $20 million commitment in collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics to help thousands of students pursue careers in in the high-demand field of cybersecurity. Stillman is a member of the original cohort of the Consortium and the first HBCU.

Stillman is expected to apply for Google funding to support program development, equipment, and software to support its community clients, said Dr. Kevin Harris, chair of Computational and Information Sciences in Stillman’s School of Business. He is excited for Stillman students to be part of a national consortium of institutions helping students pursue careers in the high-demand field of cybersecurity while safeguarding critical U.S. infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and energy grids.

Stillman College’s Cybersecurity Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Clinic will provide cyber support to minority-owned small businesses in Tuscaloosa and surrounding areas. Stillman aims to launch its cybersecurity clinic in the fall and staff it with up to five Stillman students who are being trained by the consortium.

“Black and Hispanic small businesses are a small percentage of the small business landscape – roughly 3% Black and 7% Hispanic – but cyber-attacks affect them significantly,” Harris said. “We want to support businesses that may not be aware of cyber risks or be able to afford protection.”

Broadly, small businesses are especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In 2021, 43% of cyber-attacks targeted small businesses, according to a Verizon report in 2020. Additionally, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within half a year, according to the U.S. National Security Alliance.

Stillman’s Cybersecurity Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Clinic will provide cybersecurity best practices and solutions, like how to avoid ransomware and phishing emails, at a pro-bono rate to its clients. Since the beginning of the spring semester, five Stillman students have been taking part in the Consortium’s professional development offerings to help prepare them for the fall 2023 launch:

  • Jayden Hubbard, senior, journalism   
  • Joshua Lane, senior, interdisciplinary studies
  • Kenyatta Lewis, junior, business/cybersecurity
  • Galen Miller, sophomore, mathematics
  • Ameerreia Rollins, junior, mathematics

In addition to cash support, selected schools will be offered volunteer mentorship from Googlers and Google Titan Security Keys. The program will also offer 5,000 scholarships for the new Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity across the selected schools.

“The student led clinic will provide incredible experiential learning opportunities for our students as they prepare to enter the workforce,” Harris said. “The cybersecurity field benefits, too, with increased diversity and everyone knowing they can fit in this space.”

The opportunity for funding through Google’s foundation comes roughly 10 months after the United States Economic Development Administration awarded Stillman College a $2.7 million grant to develop a cybersecurity and information technology training center in Geneva Hall. This project will establish a technical training facility that will support Stillman’s existing cybersecurity program and work to meet local employers’ existing and future workforce needs. This grant will be matched with $100,000 in state funds and is expected to create 100 jobs, retain 100 jobs, and generate $1 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates.