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Accolades & Honors

412Connect project transforms grief to action

A panther statue surrounded by plants

This year’s inaugural ACM conference on Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms and Optimization (EAAMO) awarded one of two New Horizon Awards to the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs’ (GSPIA) Sera Linardi and her colleagues, Alex DiChristofano, Michael L. Hamilton and Mara F. McCloud for their project, 412Connect: Bridging Students and Communities. The distinction recognizes those who successfully bridge research and practice. 

In May 2020, Linardi, a GSPIA associate professor and the Center for Analytical Approaches to Social Innovation (CAASI) director, felt the weight of George Floyd’s death and the subsequent protests. Deciding to act, Linardi invited Pitt community members to join her in transforming grief into action. As a result, 412Connect was launched.

The project is committed to building and leveraging online platforms to increase the visibility of Black-owned businesses in Pittsburgh and with local universities. According to 412Connect’s website, the team is “composed of Pittsburgh community activists, Pitt alumni, faculty and staff, and students across schools and degree programs in and outside of Pitt (WUSTL, UC Berkeley, GWU, Tufts and more), united in our conviction of universities’ public service role.”

The EAAMO conference is a product of the Mechanism Design for Social Good (MD4SG) initiative and was held virtually Oct. 5-9, 2021. Each year, the event highlights work that increases equity and access for historically disadvantaged and underserved communities through algorithms, optimization and mechanism design techniques.