Responsible Data Science@Pitt Initiative Wins Richard King Mellon Foundation Support

January 8, 2024

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has provided $235,000 to fund the innovative creation of a diverse and networked workforce throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Designed to transform career paths for workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania by providing relevant, practical applications and accessible, impactful content certifications, the University of Pittsburgh will build an innovative, coordinated set of professional training programs at the University in responsible data science — defined as the synthesis of insights both from data and people to improve lives and communities at every scale.

We are so grateful to the Richard King Mellon Foundation for sharing and so generously supporting Pitt’s vision for this project,” said Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Joseph McCarthy. “In the time ahead, I feel certain that Responsible Data Science @ Pitt will have transformative short-, intermediate-, and long-term benefits for individuals, industries, and the region as a whole.”

Housed within the Office of the Provost, and leveraging institutional and leadership resources across the University, Responsible Data Science @ Pitt will work to ensure that fast-moving innovation in data management and computation will support marginalized individuals and communities, including and welcoming them.

Key to this objective is that the project aims to address a critical need for pathways to ensure that workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania are job-ready as potential employers look to create science and technology opportunities in the region.

Responsible Data Science @ Pitt is led by Michael Colaresi, Associate Vice Provost for Data Science and Stephen Wisniewski, Vice Provost for Budget and Analytics. The initiative is also actively developing an external advisory board featuring representatives from major industries across Southwestern Pennsylvania. Andrew Hannah, a vital partner in the development of Responsible Data Science @ Pitt, will serve as chair of the advisory board.

Stephen Wisniewski observed, “A recent Rand study found that Southwestern Pennsylvania currently does not have a sufficiently accessible, relevant, agile, and impactful training infrastructure to produce the needed skilled workers. We need to close gaps between workers’ needs for relevant data science training in the region and the academic resources that are often abstract and less accessible.”

Through Responsible Data Science @ Pitt, accessible, online programs will provide directly relevant tools and training to workers in Southwestern Pennsylvania who do not have a BA or who received a BA degree in a non-STEM field. Programs will train workers in responsible data science and management practices in industries that cover 80% of the top 20 employers (retail and marketing, banking and finance, government and the nonprofit sector, manufacturing and supply chain operations, and public health) in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, Butler, Beaver, and Cambria counties.

"We are extremely excited to partner with the R.K. Mellon Foundation to bring relevant, affordable, and accessible data science training to Southwestern PA workers. The accelerating use of data and algorithms continues to transform jobs across industries such as health, manufacturing, banking, and retail, all of which are pivotal to our economic future,” said Michael Colaresi. “Our new initiative and its training programs will prepare workers to take the next steps in their careers and attract innovative employers across Southwestern Pennsylvania."

Learn more and see updates on the Responsible Data Science @ Pitt website.