American Family Funding Initiative

Creating a Competitive Application

The American Family Funding Initiative offers events and resources designed to help applicants create competitive proposals, including office hours with American Family.

Topics of Interest to American Family

American Family Insurance is interested in sponsoring research and applications of data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning directly or indirectly relevant to the insurance industry. For example:

  • Causal modeling to better understand risk in insurance pricing and underwriting
  • Methods to identify AI-altered claims data and images
  • Integrating unstructured data into common insurance predictive models

These are just a few possibilities. Before starting your application, we strongly recommend that you review these two documents:

Grants Awarded

Teams of UW-Madison faculty and collaborators have received support through the American Family Funding Initiative for data science projects ranging from furthering third-wave artificial intelligence to supporting student entrepreneurship.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science are becoming core components of the insurance industry, motivated by the increasing availability of data, including masses of unstructured data, scalable cloud computing, exponential growth in computing power, new modeling tools, and the ongoing drive for operational efficiency and cost reduction. An industry that has been traditionally led by predictive analytics and risk assessment is moving to a whole new level of accuracy and customer experience through AI. Some of the applications of AI in insurance include: claims management, retention analysis, customer experience enhancement, risk analysis, fraud mitigation, policy pricing, and customer acquisition. With big data and new data sources, such as social media, Internet of Things (IoT), telematics, web logs, video and images, and clickstreams, the opportunity to apply artificial intelligence has never been greater across areas of insurance operation.

American Family has partnered with UW through the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute (DSI) to offer this unique opportunity. DSI is committed to working with researchers in all disciplines on campus and encourages anyone interested to apply. If you have questions or would like to discuss your project, please contact



The Round 5 application window is closed. Applications were due March 3, 2023.


UW–Madison faculty and academic staff with permanent PI status are eligible to apply. CHS faculty and academic staff without permanent PI status may participate in applications as co-PIs or co-investigators.


This initiative provides one year of project support, with a maximum award of $100,000. PIs have the option to apply for continued funding for a project in subsequent rounds. No-cost extensions will only be granted under special circumstances.

The recommended start date for funded projects is September 1, 2023. American Family supports projects with both funding and data scientists. Keeping projects on schedule ensures American Family’s data scientists are available to support all projects and PIs.

Applications should explicitly address innovation, significance, risk, and impact, and should align to the topics of interest to American Family listed on the left. Each proposal will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Potential impact for data science practice and/or fundamental data science
  • Potential impact for insurance analysis and/or operations
  • Novelty and appropriateness of methodological approach
  • Overall quality of the proposal


Detailed instructions for proposal creation and submission are available HERE.

View past awards HERE.

Questions? Read our FAQ HERE.


UW-Madison PIs who are applying to the American Family Funding Initiative may wish to review the UW’s Master Research Agreement with American Family Insurance, and finalists will be required to review this agreement. Please complete this form to request access to this document.