Ossoff, Johnson make pitch for cybersecurity funding bill for HBCUs

Lawmakers want to increase diversity in industry

Credit: Photo Contributed

Credit: Photo Contributed

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson made their pitch Monday for a bill that would fund cybersecurity job training for Georgia’s historically Black colleges and universities and others across the nation.

The legislation would require 50% of all federal funding for a new cybersecurity education grant program to go to HBCUs and minority serving institutions. The remaining 50% would go to public colleges and universities who serve large populations of students receiving financial aid.

Georgia has nine accredited HBCUs. Morris Brown College is in an ongoing effort to regain its accreditation.

“These are jobs of the future, good paying jobs. We need a diverse cybersecurity workforce. Georgia can lead the way and Georgia’s HBCUs can lead the way,” Ossoff, D-Ga., said during remarks at Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, which is used by students of several Atlanta HBCUs.

Ossoff co-authored the bill, which was introduced in August. The bill, which has some Republican support, has not come before the entire Senate, but Ossoff said he’s “confident about its prospects ... but we’ve got to keep pushing it forward.” Johnson has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“There is a lack of diversity at this time in our cybersecurity apparatus,” said Johnson, D-Lithonia, a graduate of Clark Atlanta University, Georgia’s largest private HBCU. “There is an abundant threat to us that emanates in the cyberworld and in order for us to solve these challenges, it requires a diverse workforce. This is what will be developed by the universities and colleges in this center to train students to participate and make a living in this field.”