The mission of the Beyond the Bell Branch is to ensure that all children and youth in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) have access to high quality, safe, and supervised academic, enrichment, and recreation programs that inspire learning and achievement beyond the regular school day (before and after school and Saturdays).
CyberPatriot is the premiere national high school cyber defense competition created by the Air Force Association to inspire high school students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future.
In August 2011 the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell Branch became the first CyberPatriot Center of Excellence in the CyberPatriot program. In accepting the award, Alvaro Cortés, Executive Director Beyond the Bell Branch LAUSD, said, “We are proud to be the first Center of Excellence in the CyberPatriot program. Having two of our teams at the 2011 nationals was thrilling. Repeating that in 2012 is a credit to our team. However, what really counts is what this program does for our students. CyberPatriot opens our doors to a new generation, and because of CyberPatriot we have students staying in school, going to college, and planning a career. I have seen students join this program and for the first time they become leaders and they apply themselves as never before. Thank you AFA, as an educator I could not ask for more."
Since 2011, Cal Poly Pomona has partnered with the LAUSD Beyond the Bell and CyberPatriot. In addition to providing cybersecurity mentors, Cal Poly Pomona offers its facilities and computer labs to high school students, a major benefit for schools that lack state-of-the-art computers or the high-speed bandwidth that the university offers. In 2013 over 1200 teams from all fifty states competed in CyberPatriot. Four of the 26 teams in the National Finals were from LAUSD.
The partnership between Cal Poly Pomona, LAUSD Beyond the Bell, and CyberPatriot works well. “I think the relationship between Cal Poly Pomona and LAUSD is a model for the rest of the nation,” says Diane Miller, the Northrop Grumman program director for CyberPatriot. “They’re boosting students’ expectations on what they can achieve while creating a pipeline of talent that the nation so desperately needs.”
School districts, municipalities, higher education institutions, and communities are critical to the growth and sustainment of the CyberPatriot program. In many cases, those entities have assembled exceptional support for CyberPatriot, bringing community resources together to draw even more students to the exciting field of cyber security and to education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
This month the California Cybersecurity Taskforce was created with with the goal of establishing a framework and overall plan for statewide cybersecurity. A key goal of the taskforce is Cybersecurity Workforce Development. A recent study by the California Community College Centers of Excellence found a majority of employers surveyed in Los Angeles and Orange Counties faced difficulty in hiring qualified applicants in cybersecurity occupations.
The CyberPatriot Center of Excellence designation is awarded to institutions or municipalities, which excel in developing the workforce of tomorrow, with emphasis on cybersecurity. The Northrop Grumman Foundation has been the presenting sponsor of CyberPatriot since 2010, committing nearly $7 million to the program through 2016.
For more information on CyberPatriot, go to http://www.uscyberpatriot.org.
For information on LAUSD Beyond the Bell, go to http://btb.lausd.net/.