University of Wisconsin–Madison

DreamUp Wisconsin Initial Proposal – Frequently Asked Questions

Can I submit more than one proposal?
Yes. There is no limit on the number of proposals an individual or organization can submit.

Can a collaborative applying for funding?
Yes.

Can I submit a proposal even if I am not able to implement the idea on my own?
Yes. If the idea is chosen for further support, we can help find partners to make it happen.

What if I do not have a university partner?
Please submit your proposal anyway. If your idea is chosen for further support, we can help find a university partner that can add value to the project.

What if I have a great idea, but my proposal cannot reach 10,000 households or increase net income by a full 10% on its own?
Please submit your proposal anyway. It may be possible for your proposal to be combined with others to reach these goals.

How will success in increasing the net income of 10,000 households by 10% by 2020 be measured?
The answer to this question will vary by proposal. In the initial proposal, we are looking for evidence of potential to reach the goal, not a detailed evaluation plan (evaluation will be addressed in more detail in later phases of the competition).

Does my idea have to impact all 10,000 households by exactly 10%?
No. It’s fine if a strategy impacts some households more than others as long as it achieves the 10% increase in net income for 10,000 households on average. It’s also wonderful if the idea has the potential to increase net income by more than 10%.

When in 2020 should the goal be achieved?
The goals should be achieved by the end of the year 2020.

Can my proposal also impact people outside of Dane County?
Yes—as long as it has the potential to impact at least 10,000 households within Dane County, it’s great if it can also help additional people outside Dane County.

This initiative refers to a goal of expanding and strengthening “the middle class” in Dane County. How is “middle class” defined?
We know that in Dane County, although on average, we have high median income, we also have acute racial and geographic inequities. With this particular initiative, we are interested in expanding the middle class in Dane County (to those who may currently be left out) and stabilizing what we might call “the fragile middle class”—those who are in decent financial situations now, but might be, for example, one medical emergency, layoff, or missing rent situation away from a serious downward spiral.

Schmidt Futures’ theory of change is that a strong middle class helps communities thrive generally, but they are not being prescriptive re: exactly defining the middle class with numbers. They argue, though, that there is likely a difference between interventions that work for those in deep poverty and those right above and below a middle class income definition (if you must use a number, you might consider $40-$45K, about 200% above the federal poverty level). So, while this funding is intended to grow access to and sustain the middle class, unfortunately, it is not able to be used to address critical issues like chronic homelessness.

The initial call for proposals says that Schmidt Futures has committed to providing additional support for at least one team from the University of Wisconsin in 2019. What does “additional support” mean?
In our most recent meeting with Schmidt Futures, we specifically asked about developing an ultimate proposal budget (or at least an expectation for one). They re-emphasized that right now they want “big, innovative ideas”—they do not want to limit ideas with very specific criteria or budgetary constraints.

With the initial proposals, we will support at least 10 with $10,000 in development funding, to get them to the full, viable proposal stage, and we see this portfolio of 10 as a very meaningful deliverable of the initiative. We hope to work with all of these groups beyond November, to find funding and ways of implementing the ideas, if not with Schmidt Futures, with other funding sources and local supports.

Three teams will have a chance to “pitch” their idea to Schmidt Futures in January, and at that point, Schmidt Futures has committed to “additional support” of at least one team from UW. We don’t know exactly what that will mean, but some of the ideas they suggested including pairing teams with a national mentor, “opening their Rolodex” to help connect with other experts and funders, etc. Ultimately, they have also set aside a pool of capital (at the moment, about $4 million, but that could also increase), which could be used to fund “the best of the best” ideas. They are also interested in talking more about how to bring in matching funds, leverage other funding streams, etc.

What does “sustainable” mean in the context of the selection criteria?
Sustainability refers to a proposal’s ability to support itself without continued funding from Schmidt Futures or continuously seeking funding from other non-committed sources. Sustainable proposals are also those backed by supporting policy and community support. If it may be possible to secure continued funding from another source, or bring in matching funding, please note this in your proposal.