Provost’s Personalized Education Grant Program

Skip to Objectives »
Skip to Eligibility »
Skip to Format »
Skip to Frequently Asked Questions »

Completed proposals should be submitted using the application management tool »

The deadline to submit is Friday, January 4, 2019 by 5:00 PM (EST).

Read about the perviously funded projects »


The Plan for Pitt states that “we aspire to be a university that prepares students to lead lives of impact through a supportive environment focused on a holistic and individualized approach to learning inside and outside the classroom.” To achieve this goal, the Plan for Pitt articulates a strategy of “Serving as a leader in personalizing educational experiences of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, with particular attention to mentorship, advising, and tailoring engagement to the goals of individual students.”


The Provost’s Office is inviting proposals for projects to enhance personalized education for Pitt students. Personalized education is defined as enhanced learning through tailored engagement in educational activities that reflect each student's unique identities, experiences, interests, abilities, and aspirations.

Personalized education is a key element of the Plan for Pitt. Developing more student-centered approaches to education is critical to enhancing Pitt’s competitiveness in recruiting and supporting a diverse population of talented students. Pitt faculty and staff have deep expertise and long experience in education, learning science, advising, and mentoring. Pitt students also have ideas about how best to personalize the Pitt experience. Consequently, in addition to projects initiated in the Provost’s office and in the schools, we hope to encourage Pitt faculty, staff and students to participate in many aspects of this initiative. 


We see personalization as enhancing education in three domains:

  • Within the classroom through innovations in teaching methods and technology
  • In curricular planning by connecting courses, majors, co-curricular activities, high-impact practices (e.g., undergraduate research, service learning, learning communities, study abroad) and the development and attainment of students’ educational goals 
  • In extracurricular activities by matching students to experiences that encourage them to apply their learning outside of formal classroom settings

Data-driven approaches

In all three domains we see ways to enhance education through data-driven and evidence-based approaches that use information about students’ actions and interests to help them discover opportunities and programs that suit their specific needs and interests. Such discovery will help students better achieve their goals and may help guide or refine students’ interests and raise their aspirations. The effective and efficient matching of students with classes, programs, events, and resources offered by the University will help students take maximum advantage of the rich environment that the University and the City of Pittsburgh create.


While identifying matches between students and opportunities is an important step, we also seek to develop ways of customizing the delivery of information about these opportunities to students. In some cases, this will mean directly informing students; in other cases, information will be provided to advisors, faculty, or staff members; or it could mean encouraging and incentivizing behaviors key to student success.


Proposals should discuss how the success of the efforts outlined will be assessed. What are the goals of the plan? How will progress toward goals be measured? 


Pitt faculty, staff, and/or students may apply as individuals or as teams. Projects that would require engagement from particular stakeholders ­-- such as advisors, students, or instructors -- should include individuals from these groups as part of the project team or demonstrate their endorsement via a letter of support. 


The proposal should consist of the following:

Cover Sheet:

  • Project Title
  • Name and signature of the corresponding Project Director (for contact and budget responsibility) with school/department affiliation, complete campus address, telephone number, and e-mail address
  • Name and signature of Project Director’s department supervisor
  • Name and signature of Dean or Senior Vice Chancellor for department
  • Project duration
  • Total funds requested

Main Body of no more than five pages and providing:

  1. A statement of the problems to be addressed and their significance (need, scale, innovation)
  2. A description of the approach being proposed, including:
    • Data to be used
    • Interventions to be made
  3. A plan for how outcomes will be defined and assessed
  4. A discussion of any privacy/confidentiality issues that may arise
  5. A budget and justification

Key Personnel Page

On one page, describe the qualifications of the individuals playing central roles in the proposed project.

Letters of support

Projects should be aligned with the Plan for Pitt and also the strategic priorities of the schools, programs, and/or departments. Applications should be accompanied by no more than two letters of support from a dean, department chair, or associate dean indicating any support (staffing, release time, funding) that the applicant would receive, should the project be selected for personalized education initiative funding.

Submission format

Complete proposals should be submitted using the application management tool »

Funding Opportunities

Applicants may apply for funding as follows:

Up to $15,000: For small scale projects that can be completed by June 2020, but which are likely to lead to larger, scalable project.

$15,000 or more: For larger scale, longer term projects. Contact Julia Spears ( to set up a discussion about the budget

Note on continued funding: We will provide continuation funding for a select number of previously funded Provost’s Personalized Education Grant projects. Continuation funding will be awarded to projects that seek to scale up their intervention (i.e., moving from a local incubator to a University-wide roll-out) in order to have a broader impact.

Evaluation Criteria

Preference will be given to projects that are:

  • Innovative - focusing on new ideas and pilot programs 
  • Impactful for underserved populations - including first generation college students and  underrepresented minorities
  • Scalable - approaches that may be applied to many students
  • Sustainable - proposals that include plans to seek continuing support from external sources or to support the program internally through existing funding sources or sources that could be developed under the plan


Call for proposals: November 2018
Deadline to apply: January 4, 2019 by 5:00 PM (EST)
Award notification: February 2019
Funding available: March 2019

Review process

Proposals will be reviewed by the Provost’s Office in consultation with faculty and staff experts. Some applicants may be asked to provide additional detail in writing or in person.


Directors of supported projects will be required to report on the outcome(s) of the project, especially according to the criteria for success established in the proposal. Additional guidelines for reporting will be provided to funded project directors.

About Personalized Education

View additional information about the personalized education initiative. Contact: 

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator on a project?
Any Pitt faculty, staff, or current student is eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator.

Can an individual serve as a Principal Investigator on more than one project?
No. An individual cannot serve as a Principal Investigator on more than one project; however, an individual may serve as a team member on multiple applications.

Can undergraduate students be included as a team members?
Absolutely! Engaging students is highly encouraged.

Can an application include more than one Principal Investigator?
No. Only one Principal Investigator is allowed for each project. 


Will the program offer information sessions for applicants prior to the deadline?
Yes. Wed. 11/28 –3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall, Room 323; Thurs.11/29—noon-1:00 p.m. in Posvar 2500; and Wed 12/5—1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. in the William Pitt Union, Room 837.

Will there be resources available from the University to support program management?
Unfortunately, no. We encourage you to include the resources necessary to support your program management needs within your project budget.


When will applicants be notified of decisions?
Applicants will be notified in February 2019. Funding for all projects will be available in March, pending completion of an orientation session.

What time period is covered during the cycle of funding?
You may budget funding for up to two years. You will be asked to submit a report mid-year and year-end for each year that your project is running.

When would all funds need to be spent?
Funds will need to be spent by June 30 of the academic year your project runs through.


What kinds of projects have been funded in the past?
You can see the projects that were funded in the pilot year here.

Can individual research projects be funded?
This depends on numerous factors. Each project will be assessed relative to the review criteria.

Can funds be used to fund other projects already in process?
This would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


How can funding be spent? 
Funds can be used to offset Pitt faculty and staff members’ time, temporary workers, travel, capital purchases, consulting, software, and other expenses needed to successfully implement the project. Because of the limited duration, funds cannot be used to hire new Pitt faculty or staff. Award funds must be expended in accordance with University policy. Supplemental, overtime and temporary wages are subject to tax reporting and withholding, but are not eligible for defined contribution deductions or matching.

Can funds be used for administrative support (e.g., project coordinator salary support) for the proposed project?
Yes, the funds can be used to support an existing position, temporary worker, or consultant. No new staff members should be hired with these funds. Supplemental, overtime and temporary wages are subject to tax reporting and withholding, but are not eligible for defined contribution deductions or matching.

Is there any preference, from the selection committee's viewpoint, as to how the money is used?
No. The focus is on the outcome of the project and how it supports the personalized education initiative, not on the type of resources used.

“Total Amount Requested” does not accurately reflect my actual project costs. What if I need to provide additional clarification to inform the budget?
You may indicate your project’s total budget in the resource section; however, you must identify the exact level of funding that you are requesting from the Personalized Education grant.

If we were to form a partnership, would the University commit ongoing budgetary support, such as paying the salary for a key staff person?
No. All projects that extend beyond the funding timeframe must be self-sustaining.

What cost center/unit will the funding be allocated to for the project?
The specifics of budget logistics will be discussed with awardees during the mandatory orientation session.

Who has the access to the funds? Is access limited to the Principal Investigator?
Access is limited to the Principal Investigator and unit business manager. Level reports must be reviewed and reconciled each month in accordance with University policy.

May this money be used for tuition remission?

Do we get a purchase card or are expenses reimbursed?
A budget will be established in a defined account for each project and spending of these funds must comply with existing University policies.

Will be there be a funding renewal option?
To receive additional funds for an established project, you would need to compete again to receive funding as part of a future application call.

What, if any, expectations exist for in-kind contributions?
There is no set percentage or dollar amount for unit level support/matching funds. However, it will be considered a positive attribute if units are willing to commit some type of support for a proposed project.


If you have specific questions that were not answered above, please email