Over $20 Million in Grants to Florida A&M University, Florida International University, Turtle Mountain Community College, and Spelman College to support the growth of cyber policy programs.

(Menlo Park, Calif. – March 29, 2023) – Today, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation announced large-scale grants totaling more than $20 million to four academic institutions that historically serve diverse student populations to support the launch and expansion of interdisciplinary cyber policy programs.

The grants, which reflect the foundation’s commitment to increasing equity and diversity within the cyber field, will support new cyber policy programs at Tallahassee’s Florida A&M University and Spelman College in Atlanta, two historically Black institutions; Florida International University in Miami, a Hispanic-serving institution, and Turtle Mountain Community College, a tribal college in Belcourt, North Dakota. 

Launched in early 2014, the 10-year, $150 million Cyber Initiative’s goal has been to cultivate a field of institutions with experts capable of addressing society’s most pressing cyber challenges, from encryption policy to combating ransomware to establishing norms governing conflict between nations in cyberspace, among others. 

“Because of the pivotal role digital technology plays in our society, it is critical that the cybersecurity field that protects computer networks and individual users can draw on the experience and expertise of people from diverse backgrounds – particularly those that have historically been underrepresented and excluded,” said Eli Sugarman, who leads the Cyber Initiative for the Hewlett Foundation. “The work these institutions will do represents a key piece of the puzzle in the development of a more diverse cyber policy field that can keep us all safer in cyberspace.”

To ensure that the cyber policy field benefits from the perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds working in relevant disciplines, the Hewlett Foundation has supported efforts such as fellowship and training programs, support for scholars, and research on the issue. These efforts are intended to increase the talent pipeline of students and leaders from diverse communities and opportunities for cyber policy scholarship that is interdisciplinary, spanning fields from computer science to law. Sugarman described these large grants as a “capstone” to those efforts.

The four institutions receiving grants have demonstrated a long history of exceptional academic achievement and community engagement and are natural partners to the Hewlett Foundation given its desire to build an inclusive cyber policy ecosystem that serves both current and future generations. 

Statements from Grantees 

  • “We are proud to partner with the Hewlett Foundation to create the Cyber Policy Institute, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the University’s College of Science and Technology (CST) and the College of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (CSSAH),” said Dr. Larry Robinson, president of Florida A&M University. “This partnership will help students develop expertise and, ultimately, earn a master’s degree in cyber policy. Let me congratulate and thank the Hewlett team, and our team, for bringing this opportunity to FAMU. I am excited that through this initiative, we will produce cyber policy experts well-equipped to address the complex interactions of people, communities, and cyber policy.”
  • “With Hewlett’s support and incredible network, FIU will be able to expand our multidisciplinary cyber teaching and research and create pathways for our talented students into the cyber policy workforce,” said Brian Fonseca, founding executive director of Cybersecurity@FIU and director of FIU’s Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy.
  • “The Computer and Information Sciences and Political Science departments at Spelman College provide a competitive academic environment where scholars who are dedicated to changing the world through community and innovation explore opportunities in computing, applied science, policy, and research. This grant will enable Spelman to expand its traditional computer science and political science degree program offerings to include an interdisciplinary program in cybersecurity policy that explores and creates an understanding of cyber technology, its impact on society, the challenges of securing such systems, and how evolving technologies shape policies, as well as the impact of policy on cyber,” said Dr. Raquel Hill, professor and chair of the computer and information sciences department at Spelman, “This initiative will provide a foundation in cyber policy for all undergraduates, regardless of major, and will prepare them to pursue advanced degrees in cyber policy at select partner institutions.”  

The institutions plan to use the new grants to launch and expand interdisciplinary cyber policy scholarship and educational programs:

  • Founded in 1887, Florida A&M University (FAMU) is a historically Black university located in Tallahassee, Florida that is dedicated to empowering communities through innovative teaching, research, scholarship, partnerships, and public service. FAMU will create the Cyber Policy Institute (Cyπ), an interdisciplinary collaboration between the University’s College of Science and Technology (CST) and the College of Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities (CSSAH). The partnership aims to integrate science-based and market-oriented domains of knowledge within the university to help students develop expertise in cyber policy and, ultimately, earn a master’s degree in cyber policy. 
  • Spelman College, a historically Black liberal arts college founded in 1881 in Atlanta, Georgia, is dedicated to the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of women of African descent. Spelman will develop an interdisciplinary cyber program through a collaboration between the Computer and Information Sciences and Political Science departments at the school. The grant will enable Spelman to increase the number of Black women in the cyber field through the creation of an interdisciplinary minor in cyber policy, host an annual speaker series on cyber issues, and develop a pathway program for Spelman students to complete graduate degrees in cyber policy at a partner school. 
  • Florida International University (FIU) is a Hispanic-serving public research university in Miami, Florida that is dedicated to student-centered learning and meaningful research to serve its local and global communities. FIU intends to build on Cybersecurity@FIU, the existing cybersecurity initiative at FIU. This grant will enable FIU to expand its existing teaching and research capacity and support recruitment of students pursuing careers in cybersecurity policy. FIU will expand its existing cybersecurity programming to focus on bringing together the policy and technical competencies to educate a growing and diverse student community, support community engagement to demystify cybersecurity, and advance critical research that enhances cybersecurity capacity against state and nonstate threats around the globe.  
  • Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) is an autonomous Native-controlled college on the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reservation located in north central North Dakota dedicated to providing a rich academic and heritage-centered environment for Native students. TMCC currently offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity and Data Privacy and will develop a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree in Cyber Law & Policy, an interdisciplinary undergraduate major designed to prepare students for positions in government, industry, and research, as well as provide the foundation necessary for success in graduate programs. The Cyber Law & Policy program will prepare students to become leaders in the growing cyber industry, providing them with a solid understanding of security technology, privacy laws, and policy.


About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation:

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For more than 50 years, the foundation has supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities, make the philanthropy sector more effective and foster gender equity and responsive governance around the world. Its newest program focuses on strengthening America’s democratic institutions. Learn more at www.hewlett.org.

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