The grants will be awarded to six school districts in the United States to help prepare for, and respond to, cyberattacks.

IBM today announced in-kind grants valued at $3 million to help US public schools better prepare for cyberattacks as research reveals a broad lack of training, awareness, and budget.

Six grants of in-kind services, valued at $500,000 each, will be awarded to school districts that apply via IBM.org. These services will be provided by teams participating in IBM’s Service Corps Program, through which employees help communities with economic development, education, social services, and other projects.

IBM volunteers, chosen based on their skills, will provide services such as developing incident response plans, providing basic cybersecurity training, and implementing communication plans to use if a cyberattack strikes. These teams will consist of six to 10 people per school district.

News of the grants arrives alongside research reflecting the challenge of ransomware attacks against schools. The study, conducted by Morning Consult and sponsored by IBM, surveyed 1,000 US educators and admins in K-12 schools and colleges. More than half said they have not received cybersecurity training, and, despite the growth in ransomware attacks, 50% aren’t worried about an attack targeting their school.

Admins are nearly 20% more likely to receive security training compared with educators, the researchers found, but they are still unaware of information that is critical to securing their schools. More than 80% of admins expressed confidence in their school’s ability to handle a cyberattack; however, more than 60% didn’t know whether their school had cyber insurance. 

School districts can apply for the grants between Feb. 4 and March 1, 2021; recipients will be announced shortly after, the company says. They will be chosen based on level of cybersecurity need and how they meet criteria for the grants as outlined by IBM. 

Read IBM’s full release for more information.

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