Last week, the Cyber Innovation Center (CIC), headquartered in Bossier City, Louisiana, received a $4 million continuation grant from the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The CIC is the anchor of the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park and serves as the catalyst for the development and expansion of a knowledge-based workforce throughout the region.

The fiscal year 2017 DHS grant supports the CIC’s continued, nation-wide expansion of the its K-12 education and training program designed to provide educators with curricula, resources, and dynamic professional development in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), cyber, and computer science. Over the past four years, more than one million students in all 50 states and two U.S. territories have experienced the CIC’s curricula through this teacher-focused model; that number will grow to 1.7 million by the end of this fiscal year. In addition, the CIC has also expanded its efforts to work directly with state departments of education and has solidified relationships with 19 states across the country including Arkansas, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia.

CIC’s curricula, such as STEM: Explore, Discover, Apply (STEM EDA), Cyber Literacy, Cyber Science, and Computer Science, provide students the academic fundamentals and cyber degree/career awareness needed to significantly expand the number of cybersecurity professionals entering the U.S. workforce. “Connecting the middle and high school classroom to the ever-evolving cyber-workforce yields a high demand for curricula and resources for educators that prepare cyber-literate students with 21st century skills,” says Kevin Nolten, former school administrator and CIC’s Director of Academic Outreach.

Though the CIC’s educational programs span across the country, local school districts like Bossier Parish School Board continue to benefit from this valuable work.

“We are proud of our partnership with the Cyber Innovation Center and its innovative approach to connecting our students to real-world applications in cyber as well as cutting edge degree and career opportunities,” says Mr. Scott Smith, Superintendent of Bossier Parish Schools. Smith adds, “Enabling our teachers to experience the CIC’s curricula and professional development is one of the many reasons behind the increase in student state test scores in our district last year.”

The Louisiana Congressional Delegation’s strong support of cybersecurity has also contributed to the continued success of these efforts. Senator Bill Cassidy was directly involved in securing legislation that highlighted the national need for cybersecurity education and provided related funding.

“Communities across the country have taken advantage of the cyber training programs created at the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier,” said Senator Cassidy. “Cybersecurity risks threaten families, businesses, and our national security. The Cyber Innovation Center has been a leader in this field, and I am proud DHS chose to partner with CIC against these threats once again.”