H-E-B Fostering the Future of Data Science in Texas

Donation also helps to increase diverse representation in STEM fields
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
H-E-B Data Science
H-E-B has made a $2 million gift to support programs at UTSA School of Data Science.

H-E-B is investing in the future of data science, an area thats quickly gaining interest in the grocery industry. The Texas-based food retailer has made a $2 million gift to support experiential learning and workforce development programs at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) School of Data Science and the university’s Prefreshman Engineering Program (PREP). This gift also aims to advance H-E-B and UTSA’s shared vision to provide students with equitable access to opportunities in STEM fields.  

Located less than a mile from H-E-B’s headquarters, UTSA is a distinguished Hispanic Serving Institution that awards nearly two-thirds of its undergraduate degrees to students who identify as Hispanic/Latino or other minorities.

[Read more: "Texas Is Becoming a Grocery Hotspot"]

While the emerging field of data science is expected to see 28% job growth by 2026, the industry ranks lowest in diversity among tech fields, with fewer than 3% of data scientists being women of color, 5% Latino, 4% Black and 0.5% Native American, according to studies. H-E-B’s gift will expand educational opportunities in the School of Data Science and accelerate graduation rates among underrepresented groups at UTSA.

By working closely with industry partners through internships, externships, service-learning projects, mentorships and scholarships, H-E-B said that UTSA students will have the opportunity to translate their classroom knowledge into a highly competitive skillset.

“H-E-B’s gift will be instrumental in preparing our Roadrunners for the high-demand, high-paying jobs in data sciences,” noted UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. 

Data science is becoming a valuable tool for grocers. For example, The Kroger Co. already has its own data science arm, 84.51°. The company recently emphasized how to make data science a competitive advantage, including the ability to reveal important nuances of what works best to influence consumer behavior in a market defined by macro influencers like inflation, COVID and hybrid shopping.

Data science is also being adopted by the CPG industry. At the forefront, PepsiCo is increasingly leveraging data science to understand its consumers habits and needs, and, along the way, unlock new growth.

Meanwhile, H-E-B’s UTSA funding will directly support a new H-E-B Community Innovation Scholars program in the School of Data Science, which will provide data science students with opportunities to support nonprofit organizations and gain direct professional experience. The funding will also provide UTSA students with robust research opportunities through H-E-B Undergraduate Team Research Projects. Through these varied projects, UTSA undergraduate students will conduct real-world research for practical application.

Additionally, H-E-B’s gift will support PREP, a free summer program that offers STEM enrichment opportunities to middle and high school students in a college setting.

“At H-E-B, we’re committed to helping our partners in education provide opportunities that create a more equitable, diverse workforce,” said Winell Herron, H-E-B group VP of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs. 

UTSA and H-E-B’s long-standing partnership spans nearly four decades, with H-E-B’s first gift commitment to the university received in 1986. Since then, the two institutions have partnered on various initiatives to advance equitable opportunities in higher education. 

The largest privately held employer in Texas, San Antonio-based H-E-B has more than 430 stores and 154,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. The grocer’s store formats include H-E-B, Central Market, Joe V’s Smart Shop and Mi Tienda. H-E-B also owns Favor Delivery, a service available in cities across Texas. The company is No. 16 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North AmericaCincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100.

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