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NIST Grants Take Regional Approach to Solve National Cybersecurity Challenge

Instructor and student

Cybersecurity training and education are key components of the NIST RAMPS grants. The grants fund five regional partnerships to bring together local education and workforce to train workers to develop the skills they need to fill their region’s cybersecurity needs.

Credit: Diego Cervo/Shutterstock

GAITHERSBURG, Md.—The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has awarded grants totaling nearly $1 million for five projects that are taking a community approach to addressing the nation’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity employees. The NIST-led National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), a partnership between government, academia and the private sector, will oversee the grants as part of its mission to support cybersecurity education, training and workforce development.

“The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education grants support job-driven training programs designed to fill the many cybersecurity job openings in both the public and private sectors,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “As part of Commerce’s ‘Skills for Business’ initiative, these grants strengthen regional workforce partnerships that engage employers to close the gap between talent supply and demand in this critically important high-growth field.”

A 2015 analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Stanford University’s Peninsula Press found that there were more than 209,000 open cybersecurity positions in the United States, and the number of job postings had risen 74 percent in the previous five years.

NIST will fund five nonprofit organizations to establish partnerships to increase the pipeline of students pursuing cybersecurity careers, help more Americans attain the skills they need for well-paying jobs in cybersecurity, and support local economic development to stimulate job growth. The partnerships will align the workforce needs of local business and nonprofit organizations with the learning objectives of the NICE Workforce Framework.

The Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnerships to Stimulate Cybersecurity and Workforce Development, or RAMPS, projects will run for 15 months. By design, they align with the NICE objective of facilitating state and regional consortia to address local cybersecurity workforce needs.
“NICE supports local community efforts to leverage regional assets in cybersecurity education, training and workforce development,” NICE Director Rodney Petersen said. “The RAMPS projects can serve as models for other regions.”

A strong cybersecurity workforce is not just a need in the IT sector. Private and public organizations involved in critical infrastructure—such as banking and energy—as well as retail companies and small businesses, need a knowledgeable and skilled cybersecurity workforce in today’s digital economy, Petersen said.

The following organizations will enter into cooperative agreements with NIST:

Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) - Central Region
Dayton, Ohio: $198,759
SOCHE’s Cybersecurity Consortium will lead the new Cincinnati-Dayton Cyber Corridor RAMPS project. SOCHE members include the Air Force Institute of Technology, Dayton Development Coalition, University of Cincinnati, University of Dayton and Wright State University. They will work with Cincinnati’s extensive commercial sector and Dayton’s large Department of Defense industry to provide a rich environment for higher education to address the complex workforce demands of cybersecurity.
Old Dominion University - Mid-Atlantic Region
Norfolk, Virginia: $199,883
The university’s Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research will coordinate the Hampton Roads Cybersecurity Education, Workforce and Economic Development Alliance. It will include two community colleges, two large public school districts, two universities, a large local private employer, a major federal research lab, and several small businesses. The project also will benefit from the advocacy and support of both the City of Virginia Beach’s Economic Development Office and Reinvent HR, a Hampton Roads-based workforce initiative. 

State University of New York at Albany - Northeast Region
Albany, New York: $197,085
The Partnership to Advance Cybersecurity Education and Training aligns with the university’s goals to support science, education and workforce capacity within the community. New York’s Capital Region has a unique workforce potential, with its range of higher education institutions and STEM graduates, and growing advanced technology sectors. The project will seek to build clear educational paths and increase regional workforce capacity for a range of potential careers in cybersecurity, based on industry needs.

Chicanos Por La Causa - Southwest Region
Phoenix, Arizona: $199,808
The Arizona Statewide Cyber Workforce Consortium, comprising Chicanos Por La Causa and Cyber Security Canyon, will develop a unified approach to creating cybersecurity resources from a number of existing efforts developed in the past five years. The partnership seeks to connect applicants from traditional and nontraditional training backgrounds to provide skilled workers for the growing number of cybersecurity positions in the region’s critical infrastructure segments, including manufacturing, health care and the defense industrial base.

Pikes Peak Community College - Western Region
Colorado Springs, Colorado: $199,681
The RAMPS grant will fund the next phase of the Pikes Peak Community College Cyber Prep Program to establish a formal, sustainable partnership between secondary school districts, employers and the college. Plans include building cybersecurity workforce development pathways to address local workforce needs. The funding will support development of cybersecurity programs in area high schools and in the college’s Area Vocational Program, creating a summer cyber work experience for high school students and exploring registered apprenticeships to ensure a sustainable cyber workforce for the future.

The awardees will provide details of their projects at the NICE 2016 Conference and Expo, November 1-2, in Kansas City, Missouri.

As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. For more information, visit

Released September 20, 2016, Updated June 28, 2019