FCC’s Upcoming Cybersecurity Pilot Program: A Comprehensive Guide for K-12 School Superintendents and Technical Directors

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced an exciting new initiative aimed at enhancing cybersecurity in K-12 schools and libraries. The Schools and Libraries Cybersecurity Pilot Program is designed to provide funding for cybersecurity services and equipment, ensuring that educational institutions are better protected against cyber threats. This blog post will provide a detailed overview of the program, including eligibility criteria, application process, and funding specifics. Additionally, we will highlight how Twotrees Technologies can assist schools in preparing for this program.

Overview of the Cybersecurity Pilot Program

The Cybersecurity Pilot Program is a three-year funding cycle separate from the E-Rate program. It aims to support eligible schools, libraries, and consortia in covering the costs of cybersecurity services and equipment. The FCC is particularly interested in attracting a diverse set of participants, with an emphasis on low-income and tribal applicants.

Key Features of the Program

  • Eligibility: Schools, libraries, and consortia can apply for funding.
  • Funding Cycle: Three-year funding cycle, separate from the E-Rate program.
  • Application Process: Requires adherence to competitive bidding processes and completion of FCC forms 484 Part 1 and 2.
  • Budget: School applicants have a budget of $13.60 per student per year, and libraries have a budget of $15,000 per location per year.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

One of the critical components of the Cybersecurity Pilot Program is Managed Detection and Response (MDR). MDR services provide continuous monitoring and management of security threats, ensuring that any potential issues are identified and addressed promptly. This proactive approach is essential for maintaining a secure educational environment.

Sophos Protected Classroom

We are pleased to announce that the Sophos Protected Classroom almost certainly qualifies for the Cybersecurity Pilot Program (we are still waiting on final guidance). The Sophos Protected Classroom offers comprehensive MDR services tailored to the needs of K-12 schools. For more information, please visit Sophos Protected Classroom.

How Twotrees Technologies Can Help

Twotrees Technologies is committed to supporting K-12 schools in enhancing their cybersecurity posture. We offer a range of services to help schools prepare for the Cybersecurity Pilot Program, including:

  • Cybersecurity Assessment: Conducting a thorough assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.
  • 5-Year Technology Plan: Developing a comprehensive technology plan that aligns with the requirements of the Cybersecurity Pilot Program.

Q&A Section

To provide further clarity on the Cybersecurity Pilot Program, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers based on the transcript of a meeting conducted by USAC.

1. What is the Cybersecurity Pilot Program?

The Cybersecurity Pilot Program is an initiative by the FCC to provide funding for cybersecurity services and equipment for eligible schools, libraries, and consortia.

2. Who is eligible to apply for the program?

Eligible applicants include schools, libraries, and consortia. The FCC aims to attract a diverse set of participants, with an emphasis on low-income and tribal applicants.

3. What is the funding cycle for the program?

The program offers a three-year funding cycle, separate from the E-Rate program. Once a school has been chosen, they will be funded for a full three years.

4. What forms are required for the application process?

Applicants must complete FCC forms 484 Part 1 and 2 as part of the application process. As of the date of this article, the forms have not yet been released by the FCC. These will be available on USAC just like E-Rate.

5. What is the budget for school and library applicants?

The budget for school applicants is $13.60 per student per year, and the budget for library applicants is $15,000 per location per year.

6. Are there any specific requirements for competitive bidding?

Yes, the program requires adherence to competitive bidding processes.

7. What resources are recommended for cybersecurity preparedness?

The FCC recommends resources from federal partners like CISA and the Department of Education for cybersecurity preparedness. Schools should also look at K-12 SIX for information on cybersecurity.

8. Is a formal cybersecurity assessment required?

While the FCC does not require a formal cybersecurity assessment, it is recommended that participants conduct their own assessment to address their cybersecurity needs. Twotrees can provide guidance and assistance with this process.

9. How will the program integrity review be conducted?

Applications for pilot funds will undergo a program integrity review similar to E-Rate to ensure compliance with program requirements.

10. How can schools and libraries apply for the program?

Schools and libraries can apply for the program through the EPIC portal (the same portal used by E-Rate). They can apply either individually or as part of a consortium.

11. How will notifications about the program be shared?

Notifications about the FCC form 484 and other resources will be shared via public notices, websites, emails, and future trainings.

13. What is the timeline for trainings?

Trainings will be held throughout the summer and fall, with information available on the FCC and USAC websites.

12. How can applicants stay updated on the program?

It is encouraged to sign up for pilot program emails for targeted updates.

Conclusion

The FCC’s Cybersecurity Pilot Program presents a valuable opportunity for K-12 schools and libraries to enhance their cybersecurity measures. By participating in this program, educational institutions can access funding for essential cybersecurity services and equipment. Twotrees Technologies is here to support schools in preparing for this program through comprehensive cybersecurity assessments and technology planning. Together, we can create a safer and more secure learning environment for our students.

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