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General FAQs

The GenCyber program strives to be a part of the solution to the Nation’s shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals. The vision of the program is to inspire the next generation of cyber stars by working with academia and federal partners to ignite cybersecurity awareness, increase interest, and teach sound cybersecurity fundamentals that strengthen the cybersecurity education ecosystem and the Nation's future workforce.

The GenCyber program seeks to ignite and sustain cybersecurity interest at the secondary level in order to build a competent, diverse, and adaptable cybersecurity workforce pipeline through alignment with the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C).

  • To ignite, increase, and sustain awareness of K12 cybersecurity content and cybersecurity postsecondary and career opportunities for participants through year-round engagement.
  • To increase student diversity in cybersecurity college and career readiness pathways at the K-12 level.
  • To facilitate and empower teacher readiness within a teacher learning community to learn, develop, and deliver cybersecurity content for the K-12 classroom in collaboration with other nationwide initiatives.

Programs are designed for either students and/or teachers. All programs are free of charge for attendees. Some programs target specific populations (e.g., high school students).

  • The GenCyber Program Office releases a "Call for Proposals" early winter each year. Interested institutions submit proposals that meets application grant criteria by the published deadline.
  • Government reviewers evaluate the proposal to determine eligibility. Upon eligibility determination, notifications are released via email to both grant recipients and non-awardees.

GenCyber began in 2014 with eight prototype camps. The number of camps has increased over the years to 150 camps offered in 44 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico. The GenCyber program is closely modeled after a very successful language camp program STARTALK, which NSA has supported since 2007.

The supply of cybersecurity professionals has fallen far short of demand. Studies reflect an, estimated gap as large as 600,000 professionals needed to meet the Nation’s demand. The GenCyber program is an effort to turn things around. We hope to help turn that around.

Noting that, cybersecurity is rarely taught in schools even within computer science classes, the goal is to change that by spurring best practices in cybersecurity pedagogy across content areas and development of curricula and lesson plans that can be used to infuse cybersecurity principles across many subject areas.

Cybersecurity is vital to the future of the United States, not just at the government level, but also at the industrial, economic, academic, and personal levels as well. It is critical that young students have a basic understanding of cybersecurity so that as they acquire through their education and personal experiences, they can identify how cybersecurity impacts all aspects of their lives, be it social media, economic situations, or physical devices.

Our country is entering an era where numerous household items, personal computing devices, and business systems are connected to “The Internet of Things”. As a result of this rapidly evolving technological environment, everyone needs to be cognizant of cybersecurity. Whether you are an NSA analyst, an accountant, an electrician, or a stay-at-home parent, understanding the necessity of practicing cyber security has become increasingly important in our lives. We need both broad awareness of cybersecurity in the general population and experts in the field who can identify and mitigate vulnerabilities.

NSA already has numerous partnerships with universities around the nation to develop cybersecurity education at the collegiate level though, the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, with whom GenCyber partners. The problem is that not enough young people are choosing to enter these programs out of high school, so we need to encourage and inspire them at a younger age.

The risk of cyber attacks and adversarial intrusions continues to rise. People with cybersecurity skills are needed for the federal government, State and local governments, the military, private industry, nonprofits, and for individuals to protect their personal assets. Key industries such as financial, transportation, water, power, healthcare, and others are critical to the safety and well-being of U.S. citizens, which they in particular, need cybersecurity talent.

There is a very strong demand for GenCyber programs. In 2020-21, there were 154 camps in 44 states, plus DC and Puerto Rico. The goal is to continually increase opportunities for students and teachers in locations where cybersecurity education and/or resources may be lacking or in the development stages.

To date, funding has been provided by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation(NSF). Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) supplied funding in FY2020.

NSA, as creator of the GenCyber program, leads the development and management of the program. NSF has provided significant funding support.

Universities, public and private schools or school systems are eligible to receive GenCyber grants. GenCyber grants provide funding for universities to manage and run GenCyber camps. Universities, in particular, have expertise in grant management and many are already engaged in preparing youth for careers in cybersecurity. GenCyber is often a natural outreach program for them.

All funding for GenCyber has been derived for existing programs, so no additional funds, i.e., budget increases, have been used to support the program.

Please click on locate a camp on our homepage to see who received funding to host a program.

For the 2023 summer, a call for proposals went out in December 2021 – decisions are still underway. The call for proposals for traditional 2022 summer camps (with pre-camp outreach beginning in 2021) was released on 5 February, 2021.

For information regarding a specific camp, please go to that institution’s website which is located here. Interested individuals are also encouraged to sign up for the mailing list by clicking on the blue "Sign Up For Our Email List" button at the foot of every page.

Proposal FAQs

GenCyber programs may be offered at colleges, universities, or public/private schools or school systems. Not-for-profits can apply for a grant, but must partner with an aforementioned institution.

Yes. Keep in mind the evaluation/selection process is very competitive and there is no guarantee that any proposal will be funded. Ensure that if your institution submits more than one proposal, each proposal is structured as a stand-alone program with fully independent budgets.

Institutions should read the "Call for Proposals" which contains a timeline for conducting all activities, including the summer camp portion of the grant.

Research has shown us that the more engagement students and teachers have, the more impactful the program.

The focus of the GenCyber program is for students at the middle school and high school level in order to establish a college/career readiness pathway, but proposals for elementary school students will be considered on case-by-case basis.

Each camp must be at least 5 days/30 hours, with an additional 24-30 hours in pre- and post-camp outreach.

The GenCyber Program Office defers to the local and state guidance for each GenCyber program – in-person activities are expected to follow appropriate local, state and CDC guidance. Programs also have the option to host a virtual or hybrid activities to further ensure safety of participants and camp staff.

No, the same person cannot serve as both the Program Director and Lead Instructor. We’d also prefer that neither the PD nor LI serve as the K-12 expert, but will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

Currently there is not an option in the system to identify co-PDs or CO-lead instructors. We ask that for the sake of the grant; one of each be identified and be responsible for communication, if funded.

If you would like to offer two programs for different camp participants (age, advanced v. beginner, etc.) different curriculum, two separate proposals should be submitted.

Yes, a separate proposal must be submitted for each type of program. Additionally, if you plan to host more than one type of student or teacher programs with different curricula (example: beginner versus advanced), you must submit separate proposals. Each proposal is evaluated independently against the criteria for that specific type of program.

Beginning and ending dates should be the specific dates that your camp will be held. Keep in mind that each camp must have a minimum of 30 instructional hours. There are new fields for your required 16-20 hours of pre- and post-camp outreach; here you will include a brief summary of when you anticipate meeting this requirement.

Yes. For teachers, the monetary amount of takeaways should be valued at $350 or less. Teacher stipends should follow geographical norms and be based upon time spent in professional development activities. We ask that the monetary amount of takeaways for students be $125 or less. Cash and gift cards are NOT permissible.

Each proposal must include certain requirements regardless of program type; the following would disqualify a proposal from being funded:

  • Paid camp staff that are not US citizens or US permanent residents prior to award
  • Lack of a K-12 pedagogical expert or appropriate K-12 experience
  • Less than 30 hours/5 days of instruction time
  • Lack of pre – and/or post-camp outreach
  • Incomplete packages
  • Identical proposals for different submissions (no/very little changes between student beginner/student advanced)