University of Wisconsin–Madison

Two DreamUp Wisconsin Teams Awarded Funding

In the final round of the 2019 Alliance for the American Dream competition designed to reduce inequality and relieve poverty, venture facility for public benefit Schmidt Futures has prepared to invest a total of $3 million across efforts in Arizona, Ohio, Utah, and Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin effort, “DreamUp Wisconsin,” was the only one to have two teams funded.

Sharing first place are the teams LIFT Dane (Wisconsin) and Project Benjamin (Arizona). Sharing second place are the teams Coal Country Strike Team (Utah), Power of Home (Ohio), and We Care for Dane Kids (Wisconsin). The Wisconsin teams are described in further detail below.

The Alliance for the American Dream is sponsored by Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt that seeks to improve societal outcomes through the thoughtful development of emerging science and technology that can benefit humanity.

Legal Interventions for Transforming Dane County (LIFT Dane)

“Legal Interventions for Transforming Dane County (LIFT Dane)” comprises Legal Action of Wisconsin, the UW–Madison Law School, and the Employment and Training Association (EATA) of Dane County,

LIFT Dane shared first place for its plan to address fixable civil legal problems such as driver’s license suspensions, consumer debt, child support arrears, and criminal records that prevent Dane County families from advancing in the workforce, securing housing, and stabilizing their families.

In Dane County, 14,000 people have had their driver’s license suspended; 20,000 are behind on child support payments; 44,000 have unpaid fines; 9,000 face garnishment notices; and 2,000 people have medical debt judgments.

LIFT Dane’s app will enable workers to quickly determine what legal barriers they face and either resolve the barriers themselves or with the help of trusted professionals. The initiative will also work with stakeholders to optimize the civil court system, streamlining legal processes toward ensuring that everyone has equal access to justice.

Proposal Summary

LIFT Dane Group

We Care for Dane Kids

“We Care for Dane Kids” comprises Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, Reach Dane, Satellite Family Child Care Systems, the UW Schools of Social Work and Education, the City of Madison, Madison Out-of-School Time, and TASC.

We Care for Dane Kids shared second place for its plan to address childcare problems that inhibit parents’ ability to work, especially women’s; cause businesses to struggle to retain good employees; create high care provider turnover because childcare workers earn very low wages; and make childcare programs struggle to earn enough revenue to remain open.

Childcare is the single largest expense for most Dane County families with children, according to the Economic Policy Institute. We Care for Dane Kids addresses that burden and associated issues using a four-pronged approach:

  1. Make childcare more affordable to parents by working with employers to increase employee use of and employer contributions to IRS Section 125 Dependent Care Tax Assistance plans;
  2. Reduce operating costs for individual childcare programs by creating a shared services network;
  3. Enable parents making less than $40,000 a year to leverage Wisconsin’s childcare subsidy program; and
  4. Seek public policy changes and philanthropic funding to increase investments in childcare programs with the goal of boosting childcare workers’ wages.

Proposal Summary