Spelman College Receives $1 Million From Google to Launch Cybersecurity Clinic

Google Cybersecurity at SpelmanSpelman College has been selected to receive $1 million in grant funding and wraparound support from Google’s Cybersecurity Clinics Fund to establish the Spelman SPEAR (Security Plan, Education, Assessment and Remediation). The funding from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, is part of a $25 million collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics.

 Cybersecurity clinics at higher education institutions provide free digital security services to under-resourced organizations. The new Spelman SPEAR will give Spelman students the opportunity to learn cybersecurity and AI skills in an effective, hands-on manner while simultaneously helping to protect vulnerable organizations and critical infrastructure, such as local small businesses, hospitals, schools and energy grids from cyberattacks.

“Spelman is the #1 producer of Black women who earn Ph.D.s in STEM. Google’s support enables Spelman to develop programming that allows students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real world use cases,” said Dr. Raquel Hill, associate professor and chair of the Computer and Information Sciences Department at Spelman. “Extending our active learning environments to include cybersecurity makes us certain that Spelman will be the #1 producer of Black Women who become cybersecurity professionals.”

The Spelman SPEAR will prepare the next generation of cyber, security, and policy experts by providing faculty-led instruction with a capstone project that will provide students with real-world experiences, opportunities to obtain various cybersecurity certifications, and access to employment opportunities. Students will offer complimentary services to critical public infrastructure and community organizations.

These client engagements will become "use cases" that inform best practices and enable more comprehensive services across those domains. Clients will receive the following Spelman SPEAR of services:

  • Security Plan - development of a comprehensive plan to define protections needed and identify the goals, policies, and mechanisms to deliver them.

  • Education - training for students and clients.

  • Assessment - compliance based on specific industry standards.

  • Remediation - interpretation of assessments.

According to the World Economic Forum's 2024 Global Risks Report, cyber insecurity remains one of the top 10 global risks over the next 10 years. Currently, there are nearly 450,000 open cybersecurity jobs available in the U.S, including over 15,000 in Georgia, and demand for cyber professionals is projected to grow 32% by 2033. To ensure that communities, critical infrastructure and businesses big and small across the U.S. are secure, we need a skilled, diverse and AI savvy cybersecurity workforce.

“The world is in a moment where emerging technologies, like AI, are creating both new opportunities and threats in the world of cybersecurity,” said Heather Adkins, VP of Security Engineering at Google. “It’s essential that we invest in growing a strong, diverse and widespread cybersecurity workforce to help protect everyone – from critical infrastructure to small businesses and schools. The 15 clinics that we’re helping to establish serve a wide variety of students across all corners of the U.S. and we’re excited to see the impact they’ll have in their local communities.”

Spelman is one of 15 new clinics set to launch in 2024 at higher education institutions across the country, thanks to a collaboration from Google and the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics. In addition to $1 million in Google.org funding, the tech company is offering Spelman volunteer mentorship from Google employees, Google Titan Security Keys, and scholarships for the Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity. Learn more on Google’s blog and the Consortium’s website.

The announcement builds on Google’s 2023 support for 10 clinics, part of a combined commitment to launch 25 Google-supported cyber clinics nationwide by 2025. With the latest round of funding, Google.org has now committed more than $25 million toward creating the diverse and AI- and digital-security savvy workforce needed to protect critical U.S. infrastructure from cyberattacks.