Forge Your Own Path - Personalized Education Grants for Faculty and Staff

Note: Grants will reopen in Fall 2020.

When students are empowered to engage in educational experiences and activities tailored around their individual needs and interests, they learn more. Through the Forge Your Own Path strategy, an evolution of Pitt’s Personalized Education Initiative, the University aims to prepare students for lives of impact through educational experiences relevant to their specific goals, interests and needs.

Forge Your Own Path Vision Statement
The University of Pittsburgh aspires to integrate the rich expertise and network of the Pitt community with new and emerging technologies to provide customized, meaningful collaborations, connections, and experiences that will prepare and empower our students to leave lives of self-determined impact. 

The Office of the Provost invites proposals for projects to support the Forge Your Own Path vision. Grant applications should support one or more of the core components:

      Grants will…

  • Cultivate a community (including faculty, staff, and alumni) to provide unique, multi-faceted experiences for our students.
  • Strengthen relationships and better enhance the existing network within the Pitt community.
  • Leverage the expertise, wisdom, and dedication of Pitt’s network, so students can discover and forge a path that uniquely suits their individual needs.

      Grants will… 

  • Leverage innovative tools that provide support, navigation, and interconnectivity for Pitt students.
  • Reimagine the use of existing platforms, programs, and applications to ensure that every student can discover, bridge, and pioneer their own path seamlessly. 
  • Provide activities and experiences that foster mentoring and advising, creative discovery, interdisciplinary collaboration, and meaningful engagement.
  • Provide training for faculty, staff, and/or students to maximize usage/effectiveness of current platforms, programs and applications.

Grants will…

  • Provide access to relevant information/data to inform and enhance the power and efficiency of current practices.
  • Provide training for people to better use and understand data.
  • Engage in data collection activities that provide crucial cues regarding outcomes and success.

Additionally, while all applications are welcome, priority will be given to projects that address the following areas: 

  • Evaluation of advising and mentoring programs
  • Development of universal measures of student engagement 
  • Integration and adoption of student success platforms (e.g. Pathways, Pitt Commons
  • Integration of academic and professional preparation 
  • Creation of an increased sense of belonging

Pitt faculty and staff 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. Project Director (or Principal Investigator/PI) will be the primary contact responsible for official correspondence and overseeing project budget. 

Funding Opportunities 
Applicants may apply for funding as follows:

  • Up to $15,000: For small scale projects that can be completed by June 2021, but which are likely to lead to a larger, scalable project.
  • $15,000 or more: For larger scale, longer term projects. Contact Gloria Mou ( to set up a discussion about the project goals and budget. 

Please note that most larger scale projects will be awarded in the $15,000 – $25,000 range. 

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.

The proposal should consist of the following (to be uploaded/completed in the application portal):

Cover Page

  • Project Title
  • Name and signature of the Project Director/PI with school/department affiliation
  • Project duration
  • Total funds requested
  • Name and signature of Project Director/PI’s department supervisor
  • Name and signature of Dean of school or Senior Vice Chancellor for unit

Project Details 

  • Statement of the problem(s) to be addressed and their significance (need, scale, innovation, impact)
  • Description of the proposed project, including:
    • Project goals and expected outcomes 
    • Forge Your Own Path core components your project supports or aligns with
    • Who will be involved 
  • Project timeline and milestones 
  • Plan to evaluate and assess the defined outcomes
  • Discussion of any privacy/confidentiality issues that may arise
  • Budget and justification (please use the provided budget template)

Key Personnel
Describe the qualifications of the individuals playing central roles in the proposed project.

Letter of Support
Projects should be aligned with one or more of the Forge Your Own Path core components and also any 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, associate dean, vice chancellor, etc., indicating any support (staffing, release time, funding) that the applicant would receive, should the project be selected.

Submission Format
Complete proposals should be submitted using the application management tool.

Evaluation Criteria
Preference will be given to projects that are:

  • Aligned with the Forge Your Own Path core components 
  • Innovative – focused on new ideas and pilot programs 
  • Impactful for underserved populations, including first generation college students and underrepresented minorities        
  • Scalable ­– projects that may be scaled to impact growing numbers of students

Grants will reopen in Fall 2020.

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/PIs of supported projects will be required to attend an orientation session before funding is released. 

Reports on the outcome(s) of the project, especially according to the criteria for success established in the proposal, are expected in the following intervals: 

  • First quarter report 
  • Mid-funding period report
  • End of first year report 
  • Annual report for projects that last longer than one year  
  • Additional guidelines for reporting will be provided to funded project directors/PIs.

Selected projects will be invited to participate in an internal funding symposium in February 2020.


Learn More
See frequently asked questions.