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Governor Abbott announces partnership with CyberStart America to promote cybersecurity career track For Texas high school students

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High school students encouraged to register for innovative online program

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state of Texas will participate in CyberStart America — an innovative, online cybersecurity game, competition, and talent search sponsored by the National Cyber Scholarship Foundation and the SANS Institute. Texas high school-aged students are encouraged to explore their aptitude for cybersecurity and computer science by participating in the program. Participating students will have the opportunity to win prizes and recognition for their schools and scholarships for themselves. This program builds upon last year’s Girls Go CyberStart Program, a pilot program targeted to young women in which 2,294 students from Texas high schools participated and 199 succeeded in reaching the national finals.

The CyberStart America program is a series of 100% online challenges — referred to as the CyberStart Game — that allow students to act as cyber protection agents, solving cybersecurity-related puzzles and exploring related topics such as code breaking, programming, networking, and digital forensics. The program can be assigned as part of homework, can form the basis of an extracurricular club, or students can participate on their own.

“This exciting program builds on our statewide efforts to provide innovative learning opportunities and technology skills that will be relevant to students in any career path,” Governor Greg Abbott said. “These competitions offer fun activities for young women and men to explore and learn about the high-tech, high-impact field of cybersecurity.”

“Part of the Texas Cybersecurity Strategic Plan focuses on the need for talented cybersecurity professionals to continue to combat the increasing sophistication of threats facing the State of Texas,” said Texas Department of Information Resources Chief Information Security Officer Nancy Rainosek. “We are delighted by the opportunity to partner with the SANS Institute again on this initiative, and the opportunity it provides for high school students to receive college scholarships.”

Participating students and their teachers do not need knowledge or experience in information technology or cybersecurity to take part. The program is free for schools and students, and all Texas students in grades 9-12 are invited to participate. Building on the success of last year’s Girls Go CyberStart program, this year’s CyberStart Game is open to all high school students, and anyone who reaches level 5 in the Game will qualify for the national competition to win scholarships. To encourage participation of young women and JROTC cadets, specific communities have been established for those groups, offering additional support and community-specific awards within the overall scholarship competition.

The National Cyber Scholarship Foundation anticipates awarding scholarships worth a total of $2 million for use at any accredited college to 600 high-scoring students across the nation who participate in the competition in 2021. Students are able to compete for state-specific and community-specific prizes as well as national championship status. There will also be incentives for Texas high schools to encourage more students to reach the qualifying level in CyberStart Game, including exclusive access to additional cybersecurity education resources and recognized cyber skills mastery badges for their students.

Complete details may be found at Registration for high school students began October 30th. The program begins November 15th and runs through February 28th, 2021. Students will be informed that they qualify for the CyberStart National Scholarship Challenge Round as soon as they have achieved sufficient progress, but they are allowed to continue playing and learning in order to build more skills that will be useful to them in National Scholarship Challenge. To see the types of challenges students will face in the games, visit

Participating students and schools are encouraged to share updates on social media with [#TXCyberStart].

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