American Family Funding Initiative

Artificial intelligence (AI) and data science are core components of the insurance industry. This is driven by the increasing availability and variety of data, growth in computing power, new modeling paradigms, and the ongoing push for operational efficiency and cost reduction. An industry traditionally led by predictive analytics for risk assessment is now embracing AI to a new level of accuracy and customer experience. Applications include risk analysis and pricing, claims management, customer acquisition, retention and experience enhancement, and fraud detection and mitigation. With additional data and sources regularly becoming available, opportunity to apply artificial intelligence has never been greater across areas of insurance operation.

American Family has partnered with UW through the Data Science Institute, powered by American Family Insurance, to offer this unique opportunity. DSI is committed to working with researchers in all disciplines on campus and encourages anyone interested to apply. Scroll down to view the current topics of interest to American Family and how to apply for funding. If you have questions or would like to discuss your project, please contact

Creating a Competitive Application

The American Family Funding Initiative offers events and resources designed to help applicants create competitive proposals, including a Town Hall meeting and office hours with American Family. Learn more

Grants Awarded

Since 2020, teams of UW-Madison faculty and collaborators have received support through the American Family Funding Initiative for data science projects ranging from furthering artificial intelligence to supporting fundamental risk analysis methodologies. Learn more

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:

  • Risk pricing and reserving measures for advancing risk segmentation and loss reserving, specifically in the areas of catastrophe management and long tailed exposures
  • Causal modeling and counter-factual policy analysis to better understand the drivers of risk in insurance pricing and to optimize operational decision making
  • Methods to identify AI-altered claims data and images
  • Integrating unstructured data alongside multi-modal models to enhance context for product pricing, claims management, reserving and all other predictive models

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

Apply for Funding


The Round 6 application window is closed. Proposals were due March 1, 2024.


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.


In Round 6, we are offering two funding tiers for proposed projects:

Tier 1: Maximum award: $100,000. This tier is intended for projects that will require 9-12 months of graduate student support or partial effort from a postdoctoral researcher, data scientist, or software engineer.

Tier 2: Maximum award: $150,000. This tier is intended for projects that will require 9-12 months of support from a postdoctoral researcher, data scientist, or software engineer. Tier 2 awards are more competitive than Tier 1, and successful proposals must clear a higher bar in all areas of evaluation listed below.

Both tiers provide 12 continuous months of project support. 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.

Projects must initiate and complete their 12 continuous months of effort between 9/1/2024 and 2/28/2026. Applicants will need to include their anticipated start and end dates in their application. 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 described above. 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

If you are in need of a data scientist or software engineer to support your proposed work, the Data Science Institute may be able to provide these services. Please request our data science services as soon as possible if you are interested, and we will schedule a meeting with you to discuss your project and explore opportunities for partnership.


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. To request access to this agreement, please complete this form.