Bipartisan bill paves way for increased funding for science programs at HBCUs

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Federal government funding will soon be on the way for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to strengthen science programs.

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, passed by the U.S. Senate and House, includes a bill introduced by Senator Jon Ossoff to provide more funding for cybersecurity training at HBCUs and other schools serving minorities.

“Cybersecurity is a key and growing field with a shortage of skilled workers,” Ossoff told News 3. “By some estimates, one of the top 20 unfilled jobs in the country is in cybersecurity. to our privacy as individuals and as families, they are threats to our economy, especially small businesses and critical infrastructure, and they are threats to our national security.

A study by Norton Security shows that someone is the victim of a cyberattack every 39 seconds, resulting in more than 2,000 hacks every day.

The Cybersecurity Opportunity Act, introduced by the senator last year, will create a grant that will require 50% of funds to be allocated to schools serving minorities, as well as those serving a high proportion of Pell Grant recipients.

“These are high-paying jobs and I want to make sure that low-income people who attend colleges and universities where they receive financial aid and students at our historically black colleges and universities have the opportunity to train in this area,” Ossoff said. .

It is currently a $150 billion industry, expected to double in value over the next five years.

Also under the CHIPS Act, Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock secured $80 billion in funding for HBCUs to strengthen scientific research, which professors say will create more opportunities for students.

“When we have these funds here available to our students, it allows us to better serve them — to meet their needs as well as serve their future,” said State University professor Dr. Teresa Shakespeare. of Savannah.

Shakespeare explained that minority or low-income students face a number of barriers when trying to break into STEM fields.

“Financial capital is an important issue that affects many people from different walks of life,” the professor said. “But above all, many of our students come to us and they don’t have any financial capital. Also, cultural capital, not having individuals who have done what they’re trying to do.

While Shakespeare said the additional resources are a step in the right direction, more work needs to be done to diversify STEM. She said government funding is essential to help open more doors for students.

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