Hostos Community College was recently awarded a $91,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help advance the college’s ability to offer cyber security education to underrepresented groups in the computer science and information security fields.
The grant will be applied toward Hostos’ Cyber Security Education Opportunity Program (CSEOP) and address the College’s need to build the infrastructure necessary to facilitate course offerings—credit and non-credit—on a variety of cyber security skills; the funds will help enable Hostos to provide anytime, anywhere access to a virtual lab environment to be used in conjunction with the campus Cisco Networking Academy, CompTIA Academy and Microsoft IT Academy cyber security courses.
“Thanks to this Department of Education grant, Hostos will be able to take a significant step forward in being able to offer not only theoretical, but also practical lab-based learning opportunities in the ever-growing and critically important field of Cyber Security,” said Varun Sehgal, Chief Information Officer and Assistant Vice President of Information Technology at Hostos.
The initial focus of the CSEOP is improving technology workforce development through the implementation of a Cisco Cybersecurity Operations certificate program, which could potentially count toward academic credits in a proposed Computer Science and Cyber Security Associate degree program. If implemented, the degree program will provide successful students the opportunity to pursue a Bachelor’s degree through Hostos’ partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The certification program’s curriculum includes a 4-day “Introduction to Careers in IT” seminar, introductory cybersecurity course, professional development seminars, and140-hours of instructional, simulation and competency-based Cisco CCNA Cybersecurity certification training. 
As part of the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Program, Hostos will work closely with Prince George’s Community College National CyberWatch Center to ensure the program offerings are aligned with the needs of the labor market.
With an anticipated growth in available jobs to reach over 20% by 2020 in what is already an underemployed market, especially in New York City, and with very few opportunities and access to education and learning environments for these skills, Hostos’ CSEOP will lay the foundation for creating a pipeline of skilled workers, particularly from the South Bronx and other neighboring underserved communities.
The collaborative effort by Information Technology, Academic Affairs and Continuing Education and Workforce Development helped ensure a successful grant application and will be the cornerstone to ongoing success in these and future technology course offerings.