A local award-winning IT and management consulting firm gave a gift of $200,000 to the Howard University School of Business to create The Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity, Education and Research Center (CECER) to further help students with workforce development, professional training and research in cybersecurity.
Enlightened Inc. signified the partnership on Thursday, March 9, presenting the check to university President Wayne A.I. Frederick and business school dean Barron Harvey.
The IT firm said that with continued cyberattacks across many government and business sectors, the industry expects to see the demand for highly trained cybersecurity professionals and executives increase exponentially in the greater Washington area and nationally.
“The CECER will address growing challenges cybersecurity companies face recruiting and hiring qualified professionals,” said Antwanye Ford, Enlightened president and CEO. “As a native Washingtonian and longtime supporter of Howard University, addressing diversity and workforce development issues is long overdue in such a lucrative industry. Being able to not only change the trajectory of current professionals in the region but also local residents is an endeavor that we at Enlightened are proud to lead.”
The center will be housed in the Howard University School of Business, providing dynamic resources to the business community, local residents and higher education partners as they advance their knowledge, understanding and competitiveness in the cybersecurity industry.
“We need our students to see people like themselves and have mentors to guide them to get where they need to go,” Frederick said. “Two of our concerns are data recovery and data security. I can ensure you that the best students are here at Howard University.”
Harvey said the “generous donation” will be a catalyst for more innovation.
“Their support for this center provides unique and innovative programming for our students as they enhance their skill sets, competencies and broaden their interest in the information systems and cybersecurity industry,” he said.
Ron Busby, president and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers Inc., lent his support to Ford and his charitable contribution to future young black IT professionals.
“When it comes to the opportunity gap in the tech industry, the obvious problem is the lack of training and education needed to compete for contracts and business ownership in the tech industry,” Busby said. “Antwanye Ford’s program is a stellar example of how black leaders can begin to narrow the opportunity gap in the tech industry.”