Programs offer financial rewards to Virginia schools, scholarships for college students
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that registration is now open for the 2019 Girls Go CyberStart program, which aims to support and inspire high school girls across Virginia to explore careers in cybersecurity and computer science.
"As a national leader in the cybersecurity and technology industry it is vital that we encourage Virginia students to take advantage of opportunities to explore cybersecurity and computer science," said Governor Northam. "The 2019 Girls Go CyberStart program provides early experience that positions young women across the Commonwealth to step into valuable roles and careers after college."
The Girls Go CyberStart program is an online game consisting of a series of challenges that put students in the role of a cyber protection agent charged with solving realistic problems and puzzles. It is designed to explore relevant and exciting topics such as cryptography and digital forensics.
The program is open to girls in grades 9 through 12. Students can participate at both home and at school, or wherever an Internet connection is available. Participating students (and their teachers) do not need knowledge or experience in IT or cybersecurity to participate. The program is free for schools and students.
"Over the last 20 years, the educational infrastructure for cybersecurity and technology related jobs has continued to become more robust across Virginia communities," said Secretary of Administration Keyanna Conner. "As the need for young, bright, vibrant talent only increases in these high-paying, sustainable jobs, programs such as these continue to offer talented young women the opportunity to learn about the industry and compete in a highly competitive field."
"The more we are able to offer incredible programs like Girls Go CyberStart that introduce talented young women to careers in STEM, and more specifically cybersecurity, the better," said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni. "Real time learning opportunities outside the classroom complement the education that our students already receive during the school day."
More than 6,600 young women in 16 states participated in the Girls Go CyberStart program in 2018—the first year the program was offered. The program increased participant interest in cyber careers to 70 percent, an increase of more than 30 percent from before the program.
Registration for Girls Go CyberStart is now open, with online gaming commencing on March 20. Additional details can be found at www.girlsgocyberstart.org.
The three high schools in Virginia with the most participants will receive awards of $1,000, $750 and $500. High schools with at least five girls who complete six or more challenges earn the right for both boys and girls to use the CyberStart game for the remainder of the school year.
Girl Scout Troops across the Commonwealth are being asked to share information about the Girls Go Cyberstart program. High schools are encouraged to promote the program and participation.
Both male and female college students in Virginia are invited to participate in the Cyber FastTrack game. Students excelling in the Cyber FastTrack game will be eligible to win a share of $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced cybersecurity training, and introductions to employers for jobs and internships in the field.
College students can pre-register for Cyber FastTrack track today. Registration continues through April 5, when play begins. More information can be found at www.cyber-fasttrack.org.