The University of Utah, in partnership with Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, is sponsoring the American Dream Ideas Challenge. The challenge calls for innovative policy ideas or investable concepts that have the potential to increase net income for 10,000 middle-class households in Utah by 10 percent by 2022.

This statewide innovation challenge aims to create a healthier and more robust middle class that reduces income disparity and ensures upward economic mobility. 

Proposals from individuals, organizations and entities serving communities throughout Utah are encouraged. The initiative seeks to engage a broad range of perspectives and encourage ideas from community members, governments, nonprofits, business and thought leaders, as well as faculty, staff and students from universities and colleges across the state.

“We encourage Utahns to submit their ideas for the next round of the challenge, so we, as a state, can continue to strengthen our middle class,” says Courtney McBeth, American Dream Ideas project director.

The 2019 challenge seeks innovative proposals that include interdisciplinary solutions to disparities in housing, education, transportation, workforce development, healthcare and family support, such as child and elderly care. Proposals that include technology will be given special consideration. 

How it works

The challenge involves a multi-round selection process, with the ultimate goal of selecting the best ideas for up to $1 million in funding. 

In the first round, 10 ideas are selected, each eligible for a $10,000 grant. In the second round, the Community Advisory Board will choose the top three ideas, eligible for up to $30,000 in additional funding. 

Finalists will participate in a national pitch to Schmidt Futures, with at least one team advancing to the final round to be considered for up to $1 million in funding.

2018 Winner-Coal Country Strike Team

The Coal Country Strike team was the challenge winner in 2018. They are projected to receive up to $900,000 in direct and matching funds from Schmidt Futures and the University of Utah this year. 

The project attracted positive widespread attention from both public and private funding sources because of its high potential to transform lives, not only in the near term but over generations,” said Natalie Gochnour, one of the team’s co-chairs and director of the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute. Gochnour. “We are deeply appreciative to Schmidt Futures, our partners in the Utah State Legislature and our partners across Utah’s coal country.”

For complete details about the challenge, visit  American Dream Ideas Challenge.

Press conference announcing the 2018 competition with project director Courtney McBeth, Lt. Gov and project co-chair Spencer Cox, and University of Utah president and project co-chair Ruth Watkins.