UnitedHealth Group invests $8.25M to aid data scientist education

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UnitedHealth Group and the Atlanta University Center Consortium—the oldest and largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities—are partnering to help students become data analytics experts.

UnitedHealth will invest $8.25 million over the next five years to launch the AUCC Data Science Initiative, a program that will offer technical classes for students who want to specialize in data science or learn data analytics.

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College will combine resources to participate in the initiative.

According to David Wichmann, CEO of UnitedHealth Group, technology and data science are critical to meeting the needs of United’s customers. “We are grateful for the opportunity to support this initiative because it aligns with our desire to ensure our workforce for the future is diverse and possesses the skills needed to propel our company for continued success,” he says.

“The partnership is just one way UnitedHealth Group is making significant investments in creating a 21st century health workforce that is ready to deliver personalized, culturally competent care, particularly in underserved communities,” Wichmann says.

This is the second time in more than a dozen years that United has invested in the education of a workforce needed for the company’s success. Similarly, the health plan invested more than $20 million since 2007 to fund nearly 2,600 scholarships for students pursuing careers as primary healthcare providers.

The partnership comes as the number of job openings in the U.S. for data professionals is projected to reach more than 2.7 million by 2020, according to a national study.

“Many universities have refocused existing programs or developed new efforts to respond to the need for this, yet these responses are still insufficient based on projected demand,” says AUCC Executive Director Todd Greene. “The UnitedHealth Group funding will help to establish the base for this broad initiative, including hiring an accomplished director.”

As part of the initiative, United is also offering internships, guest lectures and faculty development opportunities, the company announced.

“We are grateful for UnitedHealth Group’s anchor investment in our vision, and we are in active conversations with other potential partners to assist us in other aspects of our plan,” Greene says.

The new Data Science Initiative will reach 9,000 scholars, according to AUCC, which also plans to offer certificate programs on data analytics and data science.

“The colleges in the Atlanta University Center, for decades, have been in the vanguard of educating African Americans who succeed in STEM fields,” says Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College. “This gift by UnitedHealth Group is an investment in our commitment to continue that primacy in STEM by making the AUCC a center of excellence for the study of data science across a range of disciplines in medicine and the liberal arts.”

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