RADFORD – The U.S. Department of Education recently announced $1,223,553 in federal funding for Radford University’s Professional Accelerated Cyber Education program, and university officials say the funding will help RU create a pipeline for students to secure 21st-century, high-tech jobs.
The grant program is specifically aimed at supporting rural students who face unique economic and social barriers to pursuing education beyond high school. The grant also aims to support the development of rural student career pathways aligned with high-skill, high-wage or in-demand occupations. The grant duration for these awards is up to 36 months.
Congress allocated the additional funds this past spring to the original $9.9 million pool associated with the U.S. Department of Education Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development grant program.
“This funding fits strategically for the university, the Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab, and our partners who will be supporting us in this effort,” said Angela Joyner, interim chief of staff for Radford University. “This is a great opportunity to align this work with university, state, and workforce initiatives and build pipelines in high-demand areas for the future.
“We are proud to address rural Virginia’s interest in developing and retaining talent in high-demand occupations and particularly to focus on cybersecurity, which the commonwealth has designated as a high-priority workforce need,” she said.
Matt Dunleavy, executive director of the IMPACT Lab, is the primary investigator for the grant.
“We are excited to bring 100% online, self-paced cybersecurity learning experiences to high school students and their teachers in rural Virginia and to pave the way for more students from rural communities to good-paying jobs and a college education,” Dunleavy said.
Virginia legislators said the funding will have important impacts on the region.
“As our economy continues to recover from the pandemic, it’s important that we’re providing educational and job training programs for Virginians in every region of the commonwealth,” said Sen. Tim Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner in a joint statement. “We’re excited to see that Radford University is receiving significant federal funding to develop a high-quality cybersecurity program that will prepare students for 21st-century jobs and help us build a strong and safe economy.”
The Vinod Chachra IMPACT Lab at Radford University delivers online, self-paced, competency-based education (CBE) in high-demand workforce areas throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond. Its CBE approach focuses on teaching specific job-related skills needed to complete a critical task within the workplace.
The lab creates strategic partnerships with companies, organizations, and school systems to meet the training needs of their employees. IMPACT also offers education directly to individuals whose focus is improving their existing skills or changing careers. IMPACT employs research-based practices from cognitive science, analytics, scenario-based learning and gamification in its programs to ensure learning that is challenging, highly effective and engaging.