The DataTrail program

DataTrail is a no-cost, paid 14-week educational initiative for young-adult, high school and GED-graduates. DataTrail aims to equip members of underserved communities with the necessary skills and support required to work in the booming field of data science.

Tailored online curriculum

Our curriculum is designed to help those with less familiarity with computers to move into data science. The set of courses we use are created by faculty members and researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who are responsible for some of the most popular online courses in data science in the world, having enrolled more than 5 million students on Coursera. Courses can be accessed on Leanpub and can be taken for free. Courses are assigned to scholars prior to each office hour.

Individual or small group training

DataTrail scholars are required to attend small group office hours and participate in online tutoring. We believe individual and small-group support is critical for helping our scholars complete the online programs. During office hours, we first answer questions about the assigned course material on Leanpub and then scholars work on mini projects with guidance from our tutors. Scholars attend three office hours per week.

In addition to office hours, we provide online support to our scholars whenever they need it. We use Basecamp for communication with our scholars.

Free laptops and internet access

All scholars are provided with a free laptop (a Chromebook) and funds to access the internet at home. Chromebooks are low-cost laptops that run largely on web-based applications. We choose Chromebooks because they are inexpensive and browser-based, meaning advanced computing can be done on the cloud on an inexpensive machine.

Financial support

Over the 14 week program, scholars spend about 210 hours learning data science. For our scholars, the hours spent on the training program means less income. We have designed a stipend system to compensate for these lost wages. Overall, scholars receive a stipend of $2500 while completing the program, which pays about $11.90 per hour for 210 hours of work. This stipend is tied to scholars’ progress throughout the program and is conditional on completing required material.

Collaboration with industry

We assist scholars in applying to a variety of data science jobs once they have completed the program. In addition to the 14-week program, we provide one week of job training to hone communication skills and improve their presence on the web and job search websites such as LinkedIn. We have close connections with industry partners for helping scholars find entry level data science jobs.