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MADISON—Two teams from Wisconsin will advance to the final round of the Alliance for the American Dream competition, where they will compete for potential investment.
The Alliance, known locally as DreamUp WI, 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.
DreamUp WI is a partnership between the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the community, tasked with generating ideas to increase the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent by the year 2020.
On January 29, members of the Alliance of the American Dream convened in Phoenix for a pitch competition that included 12 teams from 4 universities – Arizona State University, Ohio State University, The University of Utah, and The University of Wisconsin–Madison. A panel of experts from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors selected five teams to advance in the competition; this summer, teams will compete for funding to help implement their ideas in their home state.
The ideas that advanced were chosen for their interdisciplinary approach, technical components, and focus on inclusion for diverse communities.
“Legal Interventions for Transforming (LIFT) Dane,” Legal Action of Wisconsin, UW Law School, and Employment and Training Association (EATA) of Dane County.
An online platform that provides workers with easy access to public data and services to eliminate legal barriers to employment.
“LIFT Dane is a game changer for the thousands of local households being held back by civil legal barriers. We’re delighted that Schmidt Futures recognizes the role that legal aid can play in raising incomes and opening doors to economic opportunity,” said UW Law School’s Sarah Davis with the Center for Patient Partnerships.
“We Care for Dane Kids,” the 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.
A multi-pronged approach to transforming the early childhood and after school care sectors that would supplement income for workers and child care costs, reduce operating expenses for facilities, and create a child care benefit program.
“We are excited that We Care is moving forward in the Alliance for the American Dream Competition,” said team member Ruth Schmidt, executive director of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association. “Affordable, accessible, high quality child and Out-of-School Time care provided by individuals who are better compensated is an ambitious but necessary goal for Dane County.”
The EARNdane team, led by members of the Dane County Employment & Training Network, also pitched its idea of a digital transformation initiative to enhance local employment services and help workers advance in their careers.
“The Dane County Employment & Training Network was proud to have the opportunity to pitch its idea in Phoenix. While disappointed we were not selected, the Network is determined to pursue alternative opportunities, because it is imperative we help advance families sitting on margins of the middle class – families who are disproportionately African American, Latino, and Southeast Asian,” said Ruben L. Anthony, Jr., president & CEO of Urban League of Greater Madison.
Professor Lonnie Berger, Director of the UW Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) says, “We are grateful for the extensive community and university support for and engagement in this process, and we look forward to working closely not only with the finalists, but with all the dedicated teams who put together proposals. As we have said from the start, the beauty of this initiative is that we have generated a portfolio of proposals for increasing shared prosperity in Dane County that we can now seek to make a reality.” The IRP is leading the initiative in Wisconsin.
DreamUp WI will also sponsor a Community Showcase the evening of April 3 to highlight other local proposals developed as a result of the initiative and launch a second round of competition.