Cal State San Bernardino is leading a collaborative effort with San Jose State and Fresno State to address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals that will develop innovative collaborations with stakeholders and promote cybersecurity education programs that will result in the development of a skilled workforce.

“The mission of the program is to increase cybersecurity workforce,” said Tony Coulson, executive director of CSUSB Cybersecurity Center. “It's a comprehensive program to increase cybersecurity workforce throughout the state of California in all levels of education” from K-12, community colleges and four-year universities.

The pilot partnership, named Work Force Innovation Technology Hubs Cyber – better known as WITH Cyber – is funded with $2 million (for CSUSB) through the state’s Cybersecurity Regional Alliances and Multistakeholder Partnership Pilot Program, which is called for in the California Education Code and Assembly Bill 569, and funded through June 2026.  San Jose State and Fresno State each received $1 million for the program.

The three universities were selected by the California State University Office of the Chancellor for their ongoing work in the field: CSUSB is a Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity; Fresno State works with the California Governor’s Cybersecurity Taskforce in the state’s Office of Emergency Services; and San Jose State produces the most security engineers working in Silicon Valley.

Specifically, the three universities are tasked with creating a pilot program with goals and metrics, developing strategies and tactics to build successful regional alliances and multistakeholder partnerships, and measuring the impact and results of the pilot program, which will be shared with the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

The end goal is to leverage the 23-campus CSU, the largest state university system in the nation, to be a driver for developing the cyber workforce through a combination of research, apprenticeships, outreach and mentorships, as well as defining workforce pathways.

Because the CSU student population is among the most diverse in the nation, the effort would also increase and expand the diversity in the cybersecurity workforce. With so many CSU students being the first in their families to enroll and earn a college degree, it will also help fulfill the CSU’s mission of increasing their social mobility through high-paying jobs in a fast-growing industry.

In an email announcing the funding to the three universities, Ganesh Raman, the CSU’s assistant vice chancellor of research, wrote, “With the combined expertise of these pilot campuses, guided by CSUSB’s leadership, we are confident the program is poised to make a significant impact on cybersecurity education and partnerships throughout California. … We are excited to witness the collective efforts of California State University, San Bernardino; San Jose State University; and Fresno State University shaping the future educational landscape of cybersecurity within California and beyond.”