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25 projects awarded Pitt Seed funding and support

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Twenty-five transformative project proposals have made it to phase three of the revamped Pitt Seed competition.

The Pitt Seed program, which debuted in 2018, provides funding for initiatives that align with the new Plan for Pitt, have broad institutional impact and prioritize interdisciplinary collaboration.

In response to participant feedback and in light of the newly updated Plan for Pitt, the grant program has evolved to help applicants move from an innovative idea to a fully formed, scalable and impactful project over six phases.

"It's exciting to see all the projects directly align with the Plan for Pitt," said Julia Spears, associate vice provost for academic innovation in the Office of the Provost. "We borrowed from University partners like the Pitt Innovation Challenge an entrepreneurial spirit and mindset for the pitch phase of the Pitt Seed program, and the video pitches brought the initiatives to life. Twenty-five amazing projects were selected, all of which connect with the pillars of our strategic plan: our people, our programs and our purpose."

As the 25 projects move to phase three, the lead applicant will receive $2,000, training and support for applicants to address logistical problems. While the original Pitt Seed grants provided up to $50,000 for faculty or staff members to develop their concepts, there was no infrastructure for the University to pick up and further develop these ideas. The new program changes that.

"We need to help project leads succeed in the University of Pittsburgh ecosystem," said Spears. "Our new approach is more thorough, and detailed work begins for us now. The cohort will convene over the next 10 weeks. Teams will continue to develop their projects and look for collaborative partners that will strengthen their proposal for potential advancement to the next phase of Pitt Seed funding."

What comes next

Phase four will see up to 10 projects awarded $75,000 of Pitt Seed funding this summer. Those projects will have a year to pilot their ideas.

Phase five, the “golden ticket” round, focuses on scaling up and will award two projects an additional $500,000 in June 2023. These projects will have one to three years to demonstrate an implementation plan to scale up the project to an institutional level. Those teams will work with Melissa Schild and the Office of Strategic Planning and Performance, which developed the new Plan for Pitt, to consider how their project will integrate with the University's strategic goals.

Phase six is the final stage and will see one of those two projects transitioned to an institutional level and included in the new budget model for ongoing funding.

"What excites me most about this opportunity is the commitment that Chancellor Gallagher and Provost Cudd made to institutionalize one of these ideas through direct funding and support," Spears said. "We have the ability to scale the very best idea that will holistically support our students at Pitt."

Meet the 2022 cohort

Here are the 25 primary applicants and projects moving to the next phase of Pitt Seed, listed alphabetically by project name:

Jennifer Decima
Pitt Information Technology

Kelsey Voltz-Poremba
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Beyond the Bell: K-12 Youth After-school Program

Lynissa Stokes
School of Medicine
Black Women in Academia Study: Building on Lessons Learned

Randall Walsh
Department of Economics, Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences
Breaking Classroom Walls: Engaging Students in Collaboration With the Private and Public Sectors to Solve Real-World Problems Using Data Analytics and Economic Modelling

Emily Rook-Koepsel
University Center for International Studies
Building Global Competency Across Multiple Modalities

Trupti Sarode
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Building Student Capacity to Lead Public Interest Innovation

Ronald Idoko
Diversity and Multi-Cultural Programs, Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Center for Inclusion and Social Change

Yun-Oh Whang
Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business
Connecting Pitt to the World

Susan Graff
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
CUPID: Community, Pedagogy, Identity and Difficulty Project

Rachel Rubin
Research and Learning, University Library System
Disrupting Health Disinformation through Nursing Education

Michele Reid-Vazquez
Department of Africana Studies, Dietrich School
Ethnic Studies Faculty and Student Research Initiative

Ann Sinsheimer
School of Law
Fostering Psychological Resilience and Increasing Engagement in Law Students Through Tailored, Targeted, and Well-Timed Interventions

Chloe Shearer
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Fresh Start

Belkys Torres
University Center for International Studies
Global Leaders Network

Carl Wang-Erickson
Department of Mathematics, Dietrich School
Mathematics in Community: Education and Empowerment

Omid Fotuhi
Learning Research and Development Center
Netflix for Student Services

Sheila Confer
Academic Village and Theater Arts and First Year Studies
Pitt-Greensburg Center for Well Being

Joseph Yun
Office of the CIO
Pitt Initiative for Digital Well-Being

Carrie Benson
Prevention and Education, Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Sexual Violence Prevention Hub

Jamilah Ducar
Office of Engagement and Community Affairs
Supporting Off-Campus Student Life

Sera Linardi
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Sustaining Impact: Building Ecosystems for DS4SJ

Zsuzsanna Magdo
University Center for International Studies
Transnational Pittsburgh: Place-Based Global Education through Personalized Learning

Laura Nelson
Undergraduate Studies, Dietrich School
Trans Uplift Resource Network

Jennifer Woodward
Sponsored Programs and Research Operations, Pitt Research
University of Pittsburgh Master's and Certification Programs in Research Administration

David Sanchez
Swanson School of Engineering
University-Wide Innovation Distinction

See all the projects Pitt Seed has funded since 2018.


— Kara Henderson