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There is wide consensus that the path to opportunity and prosperity in America has eroded over the past 50 years, as evidenced by a decline in the share of middle-class households. Consider this: 40 percent of U.S. households cannot afford an emergency expense of $400. The Alliance for the American Dream, an initiative of Schmidt Futures, believes a healthier and more robust middle class will reduce income disparity and ensure upward economic mobility, enhancing opportunities for more Americans, and increasing our country’s competitiveness.

With this goal in mind, the University of Utah’s American Dream Ideas Challenge seeks to fund the most compelling ideas to help foster access to and support for a thriving middle class in Utah.

American Dream Ideas Challenge Update

After two successful rounds of the American Dream Ideas Challenge, it has been decided that the formal competition will be discontinued. Schmidt Futures is proud of the ideas that have come from the Alliance and look forward to continuing their work centered around shared prosperity. Although the American Dream competition has been suspended, the University of Utah is committed to ideas that promote a healthier and more robust middle class.

As participants in the inaugural Alliance for the American Dream, Utahans from all over the state collaborated and developed innovative ideas to improve economic mobility in the state. The U received dozens of proposals from a diverse group that included individuals, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, government entities, businesses and universities. Ideas focused on workforce development, health care, well-being, housing and transportation. We are extremely proud of the work our teams have put in over the past few years and look forward to watching their social ventures flourish.

The U feels honored to have been a part of such an exciting and innovative venture alongside Arizona State University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. We are grateful to Schmidt Futures for their generous funding and commitment to the middle-class.


The U’s American Dream Ideas Challenge aims to find, fund and develop policy, technology and investable innovations that have the potential to increase net income by 10 percent for 10,000 Utah households in a short time period.

Although Utah’s median household income (~$68,000) is relatively high and our unemployment rate is low, significant geographic, racial and ethnic disparities abound. For example, a growing number of Utahns are spending 50 percent or more of their income on housing.

Participants with the most compelling ideas will receive a total of $10,000 to $40,000 in funding from the University of Utah to research and develop their proposals. The top proposal will be eligible for up to $1 million from Schmidt Futures to implement the idea.

How it Works


We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary solutions in the areas of housing, education, workforce development, transportation, health care and family support, such as child and elderly care.

We welcome proposals from individuals, organizations, and entities serving communities throughout the state of Utah. We seek 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.