Information and data security is one of the most significant issues facing state and local government agencies and educational institutions. While the focus is typically on the security of information within the federal government because of its impact on national security, it’s important to remember that state and local government agencies also house large repositories of vital information that needs to be protected from cyber attackers.
Unbeknownst to many government and education IT leaders there are many grants available to help build secure data environments and invest in workforce development. There are four basic forms of cybersecurity funding available to state and local government organizations:
- Cybersecurity Project Grants. These are usually improvement grants, which can amount to more than $100 million in funding per project. These grant programs are awarded and managed by the Department of Homeland Security and function as omnibus infrastructure grants that include some element of cybersecurity funding within a larger infrastructure proposal.
- General Technology Grants. It’s possible to apply for funding for cybersecurity tools, services, and training as part of any of the hundreds of general IT grant programs that are available from public and private organizations.
- Research funding for cybersecurity. These grants are awarded by the National Science Foundation primarily to universities to fund the development of new cyber security tools and techniques and drive them to commercial viability.
- Work force development grants. Cyber security awareness and skills are essential to today’s employees. Several federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, fund cyber-focused workforce development programs. These cover many different aspects of workforce development from funding after school programs for high school students, like the Air Force’s CyberPatriot program to providing funding for agency workers to learn how to implement cybersecurity tools.
As with all grant programs the ability to collaborate and extend the program beyond your immediate agency or department makes a grant application that much stronger. But there’s a key difference with cybersecurity grant that make them quite different from most other IT grant programs we’ve talked about. Where grants can only typically be awarded during a particular time period and then the funding disappears, cyber security grants – particularly those awarded by the Department of Homeland Security – are part of a floating pool of funds that is available on an on-going cycle. This means that grants not awarded last year are still available this year and can increase the amount of funding that can be applied for.
So, with threats to data and information security only increasing, what are you waiting for? Now is a great time to start applying for grants.