University of Wisconsin–Madison

2019 DreamUp Wisconsin Challenge Request for Proposals – Due 10/1/2019 12:00 P.M. (CDT)


Released 5/23/2019

DUE at NOON (CENTRAL TIME), Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Download full RFP in PDF format

The 2019 DreamUp WI Challenge

The Alliance for the American Dream initiative, funded by Schmidt Futures, seeks to improve economic opportunities for more Americans and increase the country’s competitiveness by building and supporting a stronger, more inclusive middle class. The initiative in Dane County is called DreamUp Wisconsin and is led by the University of Wisconsin–Madison Institute for Research of Poverty.

The challenge is to develop proposals to increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County households by 10 percent by the end of 2022. Proposals may include ideas to decrease cost of living and/or increase financial resources. Schmidt Futures has committed to providing additional support for at least one team from the University of Wisconsin with the ultimate opportunity to compete for a larger pool of capital funding (up to $1 million) in Summer 2020.

Proposal Guidance

DreamUp Wisconsin welcomes proposals with the potential to increase the net income of Dane County households, thereby increasing access to and support within the middle class. Proposals must:

  • Include a tangible method to increase income and/or reduce cost of living;
  • Use technological innovation;
  • Draw from and benefit a diverse set of people and communities;
  • Reduce racial, ethnic, and/or geographic disparities;
  • Be interdisciplinary/multi-sector;
  • Be evidence-based;
  • Demonstrate sustainability beyond Schmidt Futures investment; and
  • Include community and UW–Madison partners.

Proposals must demonstrate the potential to be implemented at scale by the end of 2022. Pilot programs or studies will not be considered. Learn more about Schmidt Futures and other initiatives they fund at

Evaluation & Timeline

The DreamUp Leadership Team will initially review proposals submitted by October 1 at noon to ensure they meet required criteria. Required criteria are that proposals

  • Are complete and submitted on time;
  • Include a viable method to reduce expenses or increase income by 2022;
  • Incorporate technology (data science, artificial intelligence, advanced computing, etc.);
  • Identify a community partner; and
  • Identify a UW–Madison partner.

Proposals that meet required criteria will be reviewed by the DreamUp Proposal Review Committee using the following evaluation criteria, which are described in further detail in the Proposal-Writing Guidelines below (100 points possible):

  • Meets the DreamUp challenge (30 points).
  • Decreases racial, ethnic, or geographic inequities (20 points).
  • Includes innovation in concept and technology (15 points).
  • Incorporates an implementation plan and demonstrates capacity (15 points).
  • Provides supporting evidence (10 points).
  • Establishes sustainability (10 points).

The review committee will choose five proposals to support with a $20,000 prize and in-kind resources (e.g., access to expertise, research support, meeting space, facilitation) to further develop proposals between November 2019 and the end of January 2020. Teams will be notified if their proposal is one of the top five proposals before the end of October 2019.

By February 2020, the review committee will choose three proposals to support with an additional $20,000 prize to further develop the proposal and in-person pitch. The top three teams will pitch to a Schmidt Futures-designated screening committee at the end of March 2020 (may require travel).

In April 2020, at least one, and up to two, team(s) selected by the Schmidt Futures screening committee will receive an additional $20,000 of prize monies and further in-kind support from DreamUp WI and Schmidt Futures to prepare final materials for presenting to Schmidt Futures.

The top team(s) will pitch their proposal to Schmidt Futures leadership in June 2020 to compete for implementation funding of up to $1 million (may require travel).

Submission Directions

Proposals (one document) formatted according to the following specifications must be uploaded by October 1, 2019, at noon Central Time to the online DreamUp Wisconsin Full Proposal Form:

  • Use 11-point font size, Times New Roman, one-inch margins on all sides of each page;
  • Include page numbers at center-bottom of each page;
  • Limit narrative to no more than 10 single-spaced pages total;
  • Include citations as endnotes at the end of the narrative (do not count toward 10-page limit); and
  • Count supporting graphics, tables, pictures, etc., as included within the 10-page narrative unless otherwise specified in the Proposal-Writing Guidelines below.

In addition to the 10-page narrative, include these appendices according to the Proposal-Writing Guidelines below:

  • Appendix 1: Logic model (limit one page);
  • Appendix 2: Implementation timeline or Gantt chart (limit one page);
  • Appendix 3: Bios for key personnel or descriptions of partner organizations (limit 150 words per entry, no page limit); and
  • Appendix 4: Budget narrative and simple spreadsheet (limit one page).

Text beyond these limits and links to further information and/or videos will not be considered.

Questions can be directed to

Proposal-Writing Guidelines

  1. Meets the DreamUp WI Challenge (30 points)
    1. Underlying problem
      1. What is the underlying problem (e.g., what is preventing households from having 10 percent higher net income)? How do you know this is a challenge?
      2. Describe the size, demographic, income, and geographic characteristics of the population experiencing this problem within Dane County, WI.
      3. How does the population described in 1.1.2 fit the Alliance for the American Dream/DreamUp WI goal to expand and/or strengthen the middle class?
    2. Proposed solution
      1. What is your idea to meet the DreamUp WI challenge?
      2. How will your idea solve the problem(s) described in section 1.1 (i.e., what is the underlying theory of change; and what are specific strategies and how will they impact intended outcomes, and at what magnitude)?
      3. How will one know that the challenge has been met? What are the key metrics that will help you measure whether the solution has raised net income for 10,000 households by 2022?
      4. As Appendix 1: Include a one-page logic model illustrating how you will increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County households by 10 percent by 2022. Templates are provided at the end of this RFP, although you may use your own format.
  2. Decreases Racial, Ethnic, or Geographic Inequities (20 points)
    1. How will you engage the diverse populations of Dane County?
    2. How will your idea work to reduce racial, ethnic, and geographic inequities?
    3. Are there potential unintended negative consequences for particular populations? If so, how will the team ensure that what helps one group won’t harm another?
    4. How will you demonstrate that your solution has benefitted diverse communities?
  3. Innovation in Concept and Technology (15 points)
    1. What is new about this idea (e.g., concept, approach, scale, partners)?
    2. Why hasn’t the idea been implemented in Dane County already, and given this funding opportunity, why will it work now?
    3. How will this idea use technological innovation (e.g., advanced computing, data science, artificial intelligence) to meet the DreamUp WI Challenge?
      1. What do these or other technologies provide that could not be done otherwise?
  4. Supporting Evidence (10 points)
    1. What evidence (e.g., previous piloting, experience, academic and other research) suggests this idea will work to increase net income?
    2. What evidence suggests that this solution makes sense in the context of Dane County?
  5. Implementation Plan & Capacity (15 points)
    1. Implementation Plan
      1. What does full implementation of the solution look like?
      2. What are the key activities and milestones, to be achieved by when and whom?
      3. What are potential implementation challenges and how will they be addressed?
      4. As Appendix 2: Include a one-page timeline or Gantt chart identifying the timing of specific activities and key milestones from January 2020 to December 2022.
    2. Organizational Capacity
      1. Describe the team’s commitment, expertise, and capacity to carry out the idea.
      2. What are the roles and responsibilities of each partner?
      3. Describe how the team will engage additional key partners in Dane County, to ensure multi-sector support and successful implementation of the idea.
      4. As Appendix 3: Include bios for key personnel and descriptions of key partner organizations/entities (150-word maximum for each person/organization).
  6. Sustainability (10 points)
    1. Describe community and political support for the proposal. Is a policy change needed to help sustain your efforts? If so, how will you facilitate successful policy change?
    2. How is this proposal entrepreneurial, and what long-term returns on investment are possible as a result of this proposal?
    3. How will this idea ensure that those affected will see long-term, sustained benefit?
    4. Who else (besides Schmidt Futures) would be interested in investing in your idea?
  7. Budget (as Appendix 4; limit one page).
    1. Provide a brief budget narrative and table describing major expense categories, cost estimates, and income sources associated with implementing the full proposal.
    2. Identify what catalytic funding from Schmidt Futures (up to $1 million) would cover and what other funding and income sources could cover other costs of the proposal.
    3. Briefly describe how you would use $20,000 in development funding.

LM Worksheet Flowchart | LM Worksheet Table format