By: Anthony Tuttle, Social Impact Program Manager
At Palo Alto Networks, we believe in uplifting our communities and helping shape future generations. Beyond simply protecting our digital way of life, we’re a company that also cares deeply about creating change and opportunity for underrepresented communities.
In 2020, led by our employees, we recommitted ourselves and increased our efforts to making a difference by addressing racial disparity in technology – particularly in the Black community – by increasing exposure, access, and support to underrepresented students through our Cyber STARS initiative. Cyber STARS seeks to bridge the digital divide and create opportunity through the four pillars of:
- Cybersecurity Education and training (primarily through our Cyber A.C.E.S. lessons),
- Scholarships, Internships, and Apprenticeships, and
- Economic Empowerment for K-12 students in schools serving large numbers of Black and brown students.
In early 2022, after making progress on our first two pillars, we began to build-out Cyber STARS’ third programmatic pillar by announcing the launch of Cyber Scholars, which offers need-based scholarships to outstanding students majoring in designated majors in STEM and Business fields. In addition to direct financial assistance, scholarship recipients are also offered a Palo Alto Networks mentor for the duration of the academic school year to support their individual personal and professional growth.
For the 2022-2023 academic year, we focused on supporting students attending public and private Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and we collaborated with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) to administer the Cyber Scholars selection process. In addition to helping promote the program, TMCF evaluated applicants and selected scholarship recipients. Through our collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Palo Alto Networks identified and awarded $10,000 scholarships to 14 outstanding Black students with demonstrable financial need at one of the following 11 different HBCUs and PBIs:
- Prairie View A&M University
- Bowie State University
- Tuskegee University
- Grambling State University
- Virginia State University
- Savannah State University
- Spelman College
- Hampton University
- North Carolina A&T State University
- Florida A&M University
- Morgan State University
The 2022-2023 cohort of Cyber Scholars includes both undergraduate and graduate students spanning the higher educational spectrum from incoming college freshman to doctoral candidates, and a majority of students have opted into the available mentorship initiative. Of those who have opted in, 100% have been paired with a Palo Alto Networks mentor.
Want to know more about how you can help Palo Alto Networks grow its social responsibility and environmental impact? Check out https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/about-us/corporate-responsibility