SOFT START program awarded $2.4M for two CVHEC members in “Internet for All” funding
A collaboration that prepares at-risk students and low-income residents for careers in IT-cybersecurity is set to launch this fall by Fresno State, Fresno City College and the Fresno County Public Library system.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program two-year, $2.4 million federal grant was first announced in February and recently featured by “Education Matters” on KSEE-24 NBC.
Fresno State, which with FCC is members of the CVHEC, was one of five minority-serving institutions to receive a portion of over $18.5 million in “Internet for All” funding meant to expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology and increase digital literacy skills. One other California State University campus, Dominguez Hills, also received funding, along with three other institutions in Missouri, Louisiana and Alabama.
“Fresno County is an area of concentrated poverty,” said Keith Clement, professor of criminology at Fresno State and co-principal investigator on the grant, “SOFT START: IT-Cybersecurity Workforce Education Collaborative.”
“The purpose of this grant is to provide digital literacy and awareness training to anchor communities in the Fresno County area,” Clement said.
“Anchor communities,” according to Clement, are areas in Fresno County marked by high poverty, high unemployment and low educational attainment.
Participants can choose from a variety of on- and off-ramps from the program, such as basic digital literacy certificates at the Fresno County Library, an intermediate cyber technician certificate at Fresno City College, or an advanced cybersecurity certificate at Fresno State, according to Amith Belman, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Fresno State and co-principal investigator on the grant.