This month, Bellarmine University will launch a data science internship and community engagement program that will pair students from Central High Magnet Career Academy and Bellarmine in teams that will use data to find solutions to social challenges.

Coined the “Butterfly Project,” the program is a partnership with Central High, Louisville Urban LeagueHumana and Microsoft Future of Work.

The project will pair 7 Central High students with 12 Bellarmine students to conduct data science analysis in education, health, housing, jobs and justice – areas the Urban League has identified as critical for the community. The resulting data will be available for community organizations to use to support their work.

“Ultimately, this partnership has the potential to increase access and interest in the field of data and technology for students who are traditionally underrepresented and bring a critical perspective and approach to solving our community’s greatest challenges,” said Lilly Massa-McKinley, assistant vice president for career development and strategic partnerships at Bellarmine.

Bellarmine’s Rob Kelley, assistant professor of Computer Science, and Jakia Marie, assistant professor of Sociology, will serve as faculty leads for the project. Bellarmine students from various majors are invited to apply. Central High School was chosen for its vision to become a magnet focused on AI for social good where students from all career pathways are exposed to data and technology.

“It is our hope that this project helps students learn more about the city of Louisville and various grassroots organizations,” Marie said. “We also want students to see how they can put their skills into practice to make the world a better place. This project will help students learn how to get involved and learn from the community.”

Participating students without a strong background in data analysis will complete data analytics training through General Assembly Louisville at no cost to them, thanks in part to funding from Humana. Microsoft Future of Work and Louisville Forward will also fund stipends for the interns’ work.

“Humana is excited to be a part of this important partnership, which is creating a scalable and sustainable pipeline of diverse, talented students with data science skills needed for the future,” said Roger Cude, Humana’s senior vice president of digital and community development.

Alisia McClain, director of community and education initiatives for Microsoft Future of Work, agreed the partnership has transformative potential.

“Not only does it prepare a diverse group of students for the data economy, it shows them how data can be harnessed for the purpose of community empowerment,” she said. “This is the future of work.”

The project supports several strategic priorities for Bellarmine, including offering a transformative student experience, strengthening the university’s connection to the area through partnerships and collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to equity and inclusion.

Bellarmine leaders are hopeful that the program, along with a recently awarded $1 million National Science Foundation grant to recruit high-achieving, low-income students to STEM fields and a new Data Science degree program, will increase enrollment of diverse students.