READOUT: National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. Celebrates Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Partnership with HBCUs and Looks to Forge More Pathways for Their Students to Pursue Careers in Cybersecurity


READOUT: National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. Celebrates Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Partnership with HBCUs and Looks to Forge More Pathways for Their Students to Pursue Careers in Cybersecurity
Added on March 1, 2024 by The White House to Chamber News

READOUT: National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. Celebrates Biden-⁠Harris Administration’s Partnership with HBCUs and Looks to Forge More Pathways for Their Students to Pursue Careers in Cybersecurity

Announces Efforts to Encourage HBCUs to Obtain Center of Academic Excellence Designation to Expand America’s Cyber Workforce

February 28, 2024

Today at Norfolk State University (NSU), White House National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. celebrated the Biden-Harris Administration’s collaboration and achievements with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Director Coker joined a roundtable discussion focused on helping more HBCUs unlock federal resources and encourage more students to find their way to the nearly 500,000 good-paying cyber jobs open in America.

While Black Americans comprise 12% of the workforce, they comprise only 8% of the technology workforce. Director Coker addressed this gap as an opportunity, noting that the only way we can defend the digital systems that lay the foundation for our modern way of life is to be sure that every American and people from every community have a pathway into a cyber-based career.

Director Coker’s remarks are available here.

In partnership with the White House Initiative on HBCUs, the U.S. Department of Education, the Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) Program, and the CAE Candidates National Center, the Office of the National Cyber Director held a discussion with 14 HBCUs interested in pursuing the highly sought National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) designation. Highlighting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to removing barriers for all Americans to pursue economic opportunities, Director Coker encouraged HBCUs to seek the NCAE-C designation to strengthen cyber programs, unlock federal resources, and provide more career opportunities for HBCU students to fill the more than half a million, good paying cyber jobs available nationwide.

Since 2008, 17 HBCUs have been designated as CAEs in Cybersecurity.  In the first three years of the Biden-Harris Administration, seven HBCUs in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC, received their NCAE-Cyber Defense designation, marking the most rapid expansion to date.

In 2009, NSU became one of the nation’s first HBCUs to earn CAE designation and has proven to be a model for regional cyber workforce ecosystems. Along with local partners, NSU created a collaborative effort with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center – Old Dominion University to establish and operate a CAE in Cybersecurity, emphasizing Cyber Modeling, Simulation, Analysis, and Experimentation.

Today’s roundtable included representatives from 14 HBCUs including Alcorn State University, Central State University, Coppin State University, Elizabeth City State University, Howard University, Kentucky State University, Lane College, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, South Carolina State University, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland at Eastern Shore and Virginia State University.

Director Coker met with students at NSU from various backgrounds – first-generation college students, veterans, and those pursuing social sciences majors – who are interested in cyber careers. He also visited a career fair featuring federal, state, non-profit, and private sector employers seeking to hire students in technical and non-technical fields.

While in Norfolk, Director Coker visited the Virginia Port Authority, where local business leaders from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and Black BRAND, the Black Chamber of Commerce for Virginia’s Hampton Roads and Dan River regions, gathered for an industry roundtable facilitated by Assistant National Cyber Director Seeyew Mo. The roundtable provided an opportunity for business and workforce leaders to share their challenges, opportunities, and innovative best practices to foster a robust cyber workforce.

Today, Director Coker announced the following new commitments from public and private sector partners, each devoted to strengthening the local and national cyber workforce:

Department of Labor (DOL)

DOL announced the availability of nearly $200 million in grants to continue to support public-private partnerships that expand, diversify, and strengthen Registered Apprenticeship in education, care, clean energy, information technology (IT), supply chain, and other in-demand industries. The funding opportunity includes $95 million of competitive grants through the second round of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Apprenticeship Building America Grant Program and $100 million in the second round of State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula Grants. The funding opportunities announced continue the Department of Labor’s commitment to providing all of America’s workers with access to training and career preparation that lead to good jobs with family-sustaining wages. These grants serve as another avenue toward strengthening the nation’s workforce development infrastructure to connect people from all communities to the good jobs being created by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. These funding opportunities are currently open, and the solicitations are available on and

National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) 

There are currently 444 institutions designated by the NSA as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C). The NCAE-C program was created in 1999, and in 2024, the National Security Agency (NSA) will be furthering its commitment to high-quality cybersecurity education by increasing the number of Minority-Serving Institutions designated as NCAE-Cs by 10, including at least one HBCU.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The NSF’s Bridge to Cyber program is looking to add eight institutions to connect an estimated 500 individuals with no background in cybersecurity, including those from populations historically marginalized in tech/cyber, the opportunities to earn advanced degrees in cybersecurity. In addition, NSF’s Scholarship For Service (SFS) office plans to add at least six-eight institutions this year. The SFS program encourages HBCUs to reach out for applications or to seek an SFS institution as a mentor.

BCR Cyber

BCR Cyber, a leading provider of cybersecurity training, testing, certification, and job placement services, has trained, certified, and placed over 2,000 entry-level information technology (IT)/cyber workers with state, local, and industry partners using funding from the Maryland Department of Labor’s Employment Advanced Right Now (EARN) grant program. Over the next two years, BCR Cyber commits to train and place an additional 3,000 individuals. BCR also aims to replicate the Maryland EARN model and expand nationally, focusing its initial expansion efforts on Virginia.

Black Cybersecurity Association (BCA)

The Black Cybersecurity Association (BCA), a non-profit organization founded by an HBCU graduate dedicated to facilitating underrepresented minority entry into the U.S. cybersecurity field through training, professional development, and networking, commits to securing gainful employment for 300 African American citizens in calendar year 2024. BCA strives to increase diversity in cybersecurity and works with multiple HBCUs, including Howard University and Morgan State University, as a part of their education and workforce development efforts. BCA plans to expand to additional HBCUs, including schools in Virginia.

Minority Technology Foundation

The Minority Technology Foundation pledges its continued dedication to promoting cybersecurity education and training initiatives for the well-being and future success of underserved communities. The Minority Technology Foundation is committed to providing accessible and comprehensive cyber education to 500+ youth and young adults over the next 24 months with an understanding of cybersecurity principles that go beyond theoretical knowledge, ensuring that each program participant may acquire practical, hands-on experience in cybersecurity tools, tactics and techniques, best practices, and related career opportunities available to them.


VetSec, a non-profit that provides low and no-cost training, education, employment, and transition assistance to active-duty, reservists, Veterans, and members of the National Guard seeking cyber careers, is committed to providing educational pathways to meaningful employment to over 10,000 people by the end of 2025, and to 25,000 by 2028. In addition to the direct commitment, VetSec provides a lifelong community for military Veterans in information technology (IT) and cyber. It  is dedicated to supporting its members throughout their careers and life journeys.

Today, ONCD provided an update on public and private sector programs committed to helping HBCUs and their students:

U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

The Connected Minority Communities Pilot Program under NTIA has awarded grants to 43 HBCUs totaling more than $130 million. These awards help HBCUs provide high-speed Internet service throughout their campuses, including in many historical buildings that have been unserved or underserved, as well as to collaborate with neighboring communities.

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

In 2023, DOL awarded approximately $108 million through grants and contracts to expand Registered Apprenticeships in high-growth and in-demand industries, including information technology (IT) and cyber, that benefit underrepresented populations, including the Black community.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Since 2023, NSF has provided more than $2.3 million in funding through its CyberCorps Scholarship For Service (SFS) program. It provides scholarships for up to three years of support for cybersecurity undergraduate and graduate education for students who intend to serve in the U.S. government after graduation. In the past three years, NSF has added two more HBCUs to its SFS program.


Since announcing IBM’s HBCU partnerships to establish virtual Cybersecurity Leadership Centers to address the cybersecurity talent shortage, Norfolk State University (NSU) faculty and students have gained access to a wide range of coursework lectures, immersive training experiences, certifications, and other programming at no cost. This year, IBM enhanced the NSU Cybersecurity Portal to access critical, ongoing cybersecurity education, including introductory, academic, and IBM client-based courses. Students and faculty across all 20 HBCUs convene for monthly webinars to share best practices and learn from each other. They also gain access to subject matter experts through the monthly IBM Security Expert Lecture Series.