Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity FAQs

What is the Year of Data and Society?

The Year of Data and Society provides the University of Pittsburgh an opportunity to think critically about the data we collect, use, and leave behind as traces, through our scholarly work, institutional operations, and our digital lives. Through the Year of Data and Society, we will celebrate existing expertise and practices at Pitt in data methods and data studies, increase our awareness of what socially responsible data practices look like in all domains, and develop strategies for areas where we can improve and grow at Pitt.  

As part of this focus on data and its impacts on our lives and communities, the Year of Data and Society Steering Committee invites University of Pittsburgh students, staff, and faculty to submit applications to support activities connected to the theme. Applications for up to $8,000 to support new programs, events, curriculum development (either to teach about data and society or to use data in augmenting learning), research, art and creative works, technology design and development, and other possibilities are invited. All proposals should indicate how applicants will contribute to fostering socially responsible data practices at Pitt; to exploring societal implications of data and its uses; or to engaging the Pitt or broader community with data through curriculum development, teaching, events, art, or storytelling. 

What is the Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity?

The Steering Committee for the University of Pittsburgh Year of Data and Society invites funding requests for $500 up to $8,000. Proposals should thematically connect to the Year of Data and Society’s focus on the social implications of data and its uses and on socially responsible data practices.

Proposals for research or scholarly projects with budgets exceeding $8,000 are encouraged to apply to the Pitt Momentum Funds call

For best consideration, proposals should indicate how applicants would match the grant through funds, materials, equipment, space, time, or other in-kind contributions.

What types of projects will the Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity support?

Applicants are invited to submit proposals to support: 

  • Events and programming: Host lectures, workshops, reading groups, panels, and community conversations around the theme of data and society. Potential topics include: 
    • Exploration of the impacts of data and its uses 
    • Social responsibility and data methods 
    • Understanding and accounting for the social relationships, biases, and power dynamics behind data practices
    • Mitigating and redressing harm in data work and using data for good 
  • Curriculum: Support/expand the data-focused curriculum at the University of Pittsburgh 
    • Create instructional materials aimed at either formal undergraduate or graduate education or professional education for our faculty, staff, and postdocs, including syllabi, modules, or learning activities that build data concepts and skills in the context of a domain
    • Integrate best data practices for assessing your course and/or learning outcomes  
    • Contribute to a central Pitt Canvas repository of shared curricular materials to support adoption and adaptation by instructors, including those in other programs 
    • Include learning objectives that emphasize critical data literacy skills, social responsibility, and societal impact of data. 
  • Teaching: Use data and data analysis methods to improve teaching and learning at the University of Pittsburgh 
    • Use data, student-generated or otherwise, to inform and improve your course design and/or teaching practices 
    • Assess your course and/or learning outcomes – what change in your course, student experience, and/or learning outcomes can you measure upon implementing this data-based intervention? 
    • Plan to share with your peers what you have learned about the process of using data to improve your teaching  
  • Research: Generate new knowledge and understanding. Potential topics include: 
    • Use data to address challenging societal and community issues 
    • Contribute to data studies scholarship, studying the societal, cultural, policy, and ethical aspects of data and data infrastructures systems  
    • Engage in community-centered research on uses of data in society 
    • Add a quantitative component to previously qualitative research related to society 
  • Visual art and creative writing 
    • Connect communities to data by using data to tell stories, visualize patterns, and as an art form 
  • Technology design and development 
    • Proof of concept or design of tools, methods, and workflows that uses data to promote well-being and community welfare 
Who is eligible to apply for Year of Data and Society funding? 

Students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff (including postdocs) at all University of Pittsburgh campuses. 

When are proposals due? 

The Year of Data and Society Call for Proposals launches on August 27, 2021. Proposals will be funded in three rounds. 

Funding Round Submission Deadline Awards Announced
1 October 1, 2021, 12pm*  Ongoing until October 15, 2021
2 December 1, 2021, 12pm December 15, 2021
3 February 1, 2022, 12pm February 15, 2022

*The Steering Committee encourages the submission of applications throughout the month of September to kick start the year with exciting activities! During September, the Steering Committee will be reviewing proposals as they are submitted and will notify awardees of funding decision following review. 

Where do I apply for the Year of Data and Society Funding Opportunity? 

You may access and complete the application on Competition Space. You will also need to download the Year of Data and Society Budget Template needed for the application and upload your completed version with your application in Competition Space.  

If I am faculty or staff, am I required to provide a letter of support from my department chair or supervisor? 

Staff and faculty should follow their unit’s standard guidelines and practices when applying for University opportunities of this sort. While the application process for this funding opportunity does not require a letter of support from the department chair or supervisor, that practice may be the standard for your department and should then be followed. Such letters can be submitted as supplemental material through the submission portal. The committee recommends alerting your chair/supervisor and your financial administrator prior to submitting an application. 

Will there be information sessions for applicants prior to the deadline?

Yes! We will have a series of information sessions and post the recordings on the Year of Data and Society website. Please see the University calendar page for a list of upcoming information sessions. Note: Applicants are not required to attend an information session. You can also email questions to

What are appropriate matching or in-kind contributions for this award?

Priority is given to projects that include matching funds or in-kind contributions. The matching funds can come from a variety of sources, including internal and external. Proposals should indicate how applicants would match the grant through with funds, materials, equipment, space, time, or other contributions commensurate with or greater than the amount requested. 

How will proposals be evaluated?

All proposals must demonstrate: 

  • Alignment with Year of Data and Society theme 
    • Applicants must address how their project will foster socially responsible data practices at Pitt; explore the societal implications of data and its uses; use data to improve a societal experience or our knowledge about society and/or engage communities with data using art, events, and storytelling 
  • Evidence of need, challenge, and/or opportunity and benefit 
    • Applicants must provide a justification for the project, sharing the need, opportunity, or challenge that it will address. The proposal should clearly define the target group that will be impacted by your project.  
  • A commitment to DEI values, such as through: 
    • Events and projects that consider the use of data to address systemic inequalities and community well-being [or that explore where systemic inequalities have been furthered by data collection or use] 
    • The development of culturally responsive, anti-racist, and accessible data curricula 
    • A commitment to equitable and inclusive access through open licensing and sharing 
    • A critical interrogation of the proposed project’s data collection, analysis, and reporting  
  • Sustainable impact beyond Year of Data and Society by: 
    • Generating new knowledge/understanding 
    • Supporting long lasting changes (curricular changes in a program, policy, organizational, or structural changes) 
    • Sharing of knowledge or products with peers to extend impact 
    • Strategically connecting to existing programs or infrastructure at the University of Pittsburgh and beyond

Priority will be given to proposals that provide matching funds or in-kind contributions. Projects also including one or more of the following are especially encouraged: 

  • Are focused on teaching, curriculum development, or out of the classroom educational opportunities such as workshops 
  • Involve interdisciplinary teams that bring together more than one department at Pitt  
  • Involve team members with different roles at and connections to Pitt (student, staff, faculty, community members, alumni) 
  • Connect the University of Pittsburgh campuses 
My proposal did not receive funding. Can I revise and resubmit? 

Yes. If your proposal is not accepted during an earlier round, we encourage you to take advantage of resubmission opportunities in the following round(s) of funding. 

Will grant funds be distributed in a single payment?


I am a student. If I, or my student group, is awarded funds, how do we receive the funding?

Student groups on the Pittsburgh campus are provided an account number by the Student Organization Resource Center. Please contact that office to find out the appropriate University account number to which the Year of Data and Society Initiative can release the funds. 

Students on the regional campuses should contact the Business Office and the Office of Student Affairs on their respective campus. 

If your proposal is not affiliated with an official student group, funding can be released to your department. For example, a student in the English Department who proposes a project of their own can, with the approval of the Department, have awarded funds dispersed to the English Department; the Department would then handle dispersal of funds to the student. Students should come to an agreement with their Department before funds are requested. 

Must awarded funds be expended during the 2021-2022 academic year?

Funds must be expended by June 30.

Can Year of Data and Society funds be used for staff/faculty/student salary support?

Funds cannot be used to support faculty or staff salary.

Applicants can apply to support students. Please note that there are University requirements around GSA salary and tuition support. 

I want to use Year of Data and Society funds to buy equipment for our project or event. Is this allowed? 

Equipment purchased with University funds belongs to the University. If your budget includes equipment to be purchased with Year of Data and Society funds, please make sure the narrative states which University department has agreed to take on the equipment after your project or event is complete.

What are the reporting and participation expectations for award recipients?

Award recipients will be asked to submit a brief report  to by May 30, 2022. Award recipients will also be encouraged to share their activities at the Celebration of the Year of Data and Society in April 2022 and make their project outputs available through a Canvas site for instructional materials or D-Scholarship@Pitt for posters, papers, and data.

1. Report: Please submit a brief (~750-1000 word) summary of your project activities and reflection. Your report will be made available through the Year of Data and Society website and should address the following: 

  • What was the need, challenge, or opportunity that your project addressed? 
  • Briefly describe the main activities of your project (who, what, when, where…). If you hosted an event, please let us know the attendance (and share photographs if you have them!).What were some successes or things that went well for you in this project? Challenges or barriers?   
  • What has this project positioned you take on next? Or what is a next step that you may be interested in pursuing? 
  • What can others learn from your project and/or its outcomes? How can others improve their own practices based on your findings? Or, what were some of the main take-home messages from your event? 

2. Sharing: You will be asked to submit your instructional materials for inclusion in a central Pitt repository of data curricula and educational resources. In doing so, your materials will be shared with the Pitt community. For awardees creating other outputs, such as posters, papers, and datasets, we invite you to make your work available through the D-Scholarship@Pitt institutional repository

3. Participation in the Celebration of the Year of Data and Society (April event): In April 2022, we will celebrate your Year of Data and Society activities at an event for the University. This event will also include a closing speaker. You will be invited to attend the event and represent your project in a way that best suits it (a poster, lightning talk, demonstration, or table). Award recipients will be contacted in March 2022 with information about ways to participate.