Foster Warriors wants to give foster youth and alumni the same chances as everyone else to pursue a career in the exciting and rewarding worlds of cybersecurity and privacy and find a place for themselves in one of the world’s fastest-growing career fields.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently more than 430,000 children in foster care in the U.S., and according to the National Foster Youth Initiative:
- More than 23,000 children will age out of the US foster care system every year.
- After reaching the age of 18, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless.
- Only 1 out of every 2 foster kids who age out of the system will have some form of gainful employment by the age of 24.
- There is less than a 3% chance for children who have aged out of foster care to earn a college degree at any point in their life.
- 7 out of 10 girls who age out of the foster care system will become pregnant before the age of 21.
- The percentage of children who age out of the foster care system and still suffer from the direct effects of PTSD: 25%.
- About 1 in 4 kids who age out of the system will not graduate from high school or be able to pass their GED.
And yet, the cybersecurity industry is reporting a critical national and global shortage of cybersecurity professionals, sparking a nationwide effort to encourage teens to consider exploring careers in this field.
We want foster youth to have a seat at that table, a voice in that discussion, and an equal chance to share in this opportunity.
Here are some of the paths and opportunities we’re exploring:
- Matching students with local security teams who can help guide them through the process, from simply learning if this is a career they'll like and excel in, all the way through formal education and that first internship and job.
- Providing access to free training, from basic introductory and orientation courses to more advanced and specialist training.
- Structuring an online learning environment so that training is always easy and accessible no matter what the circumstances of the students.
- Creating student-led projects focusing on the intersection of cybersecurity and privacy.
- Providing assistance with local internships and scholarships.
- Arranging meet-and-greets with local security experts and employers.
- Helping students secure their first industry-recognized security certifications, like the Comptia Security+ and CIPT certifications.
- Giving students access to a network of supporters and cheerleaders who can help support them throughout the process and into their careers.
- Connecting students with local and national professional associations to help them build out their first career networks.
- Assisting students with their job-hunting skills, including interview skills, resume writing, and even connecting them with specialist recruiters and placement experts.
- And encouraging those already in the security industry to consider volunteering for their local foster youth services and programs, and share some of their good fortune.
The Bigger Opportunity
We hope that if we're successful in establishing our program nationwide, we may have a rare opportunity to remove the stigma of the word foster, to give foster youth and adults real role models they can relate to, and help foster youth wear the term as a badge of honor rather than shame.