|Initiative To Boost Middle Class Announces Finalists
MADISON – UW–Madison has chosen three finalists for a national competition next month seeking ideas to expand and strengthen the middle class in
Dane County and beyond.
Last April, Schmidt Futures, a venture facility for public benefit founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, awarded UW–Madison $1.5 million to produce
innovative ideas over two rounds of competition for increasing the net income of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent. The project is known as
DreamUp Wisconsin, and is part of Schmidt Futures’ Alliance for the American Dream.
The university solicited proposals requiring partnerships between the campus and community. After review by a 12-person committee made up of
community leaders and university faculty and staff, three finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas in Phoenix on Jan. 29. Schmidt Futures has
committed to further support the efforts of at least one team from each of the four partnering universities: UW–Madison, the Ohio State University,
Arizona State University, and the University of Utah. The winners will be given the chance to further develop their plans and compete for funding to
support a full-scale implementation in summer 2019. A second round of competition will take place beginning in early 2019.
DreamUp Wisconsin will host a showcase later this winter to celebrate advancing teams and promote the range of high-quality proposals in this year’s
challenge, with the goal of securing alternative funding and resources for those ideas.
“LIFT (Legal Interventions for Transforming) Dane,” Legal Action of Wisconsin, UW Law School, and Employment and Training Association (EATA) of Dane
A suite of free legal services using a data and technology-driven approach to eliminate legal barriers to employment and opportunity.
“Thousands of Dane County households are weighed down by fixable civil legal problems—such as suspended driver’s licenses, consumer debt, child
support arrears, and criminal records—that prevent them from advancing in the workforce, securing housing, and stabilizing their families. LIFT Dane
will make data about these problems accessible to everyday residents; conduct holistic legal checkups to identify problems with legal solutions; and
connect people to free legal aid to address these fixable legal problems. By removing barriers to finding and retaining a job, LIFT Dane's low-cost, high-
impact, tech-driven vision will boost local incomes, transform the middle class, and become a national model,” said Vicky Selkowe, Director of
Legislative, Rulemaking & Training Compliance at Legal Action of Wisconsin.
“We Care for Dane Kids,” the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, Reach Dane, the UW Schools of Social Work and Education, the City of Madison,
and Madison Out-of-School Time.
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.
“Child care and out-of-school time care is expensive and hard to find, but absolutely essential to how our county’s economy functions. Despite the
critical role this sector plays in our community, the workers who do this work still don’t earn enough. The DreamUp challenge brought us together to find
ambitious solutions to the dramatic under-investment in child care and out-of-school time. We are excited about the opportunity to solve these problems
that impact so many households in Dane County,” said the We Care for Dane Kids team.
“EARNDane,” Urban League of Greater Madison, United Way of Dane County, Latino Academy of Workforce Development, Dane County Human Services,
Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin, Common Wealth Development, American Job Center Network, Dropp, American Family
Insurance, the City of Madison, and the UW Center for Financial Security.
A program to help employees advance in their jobs, EARNDane will develop an app that is “part LinkedIn for entry-level workers and part FitBit for your
finances” to help those on the cusp of the middle class build their professional networks and make career and financial empowerment plans. The app
will be supported by a robust engagement campaign that leverages the extensive reach of the Dane County Employment & Training Network, area
employers, and the partners listed above.
“EARNDane’s plan to combine the strengths of our community-based partners with technology and innovation is an exciting opportunity that can support
our company’s workforce development, diversity and inclusion strategies,” said Sarah Condella, Senior Vice President for Human Resources, Exact
“DreamUp is a shining example of the Wisconsin Idea in action – a true university-community partnership to improve the well-being of Wisconsin
residents, with high potential to produce innovative initiatives that could be implemented in other places around the country,” says UW–Madison
Chancellor Rebecca Blank. “I was pleased to see so many first-class proposals submitted in partnership between community organizations and UW
employees. Choosing among these proposals was a daunting task, as so many held promise to substantially benefit our community. But I believe we
have selected three proposals that address serious problems in very different domains and that have a high probability of success if implemented in the
Lawrence Berger, director of UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty, added, “We look forward to working with the three finalist teams to
prepare for future rounds of competition and, we hope, implementation at scale. More importantly, we also plan to continue working with the many
incredible teams who participated to further refine and seek resources to implement their proposals, whether as pilots or at scale. We are also excited
to learn more about the second Schmidt Futures challenge, which will be announced this winter.”
For more information on DreamUp Wisconsin, visit https://www.irp.wisc.edu/dreamup/.
For more information on the Alliance for the American Dream, visit https://schmidtfutures.com/our-work/alliance-american-dream.
For more information on Schmidt Futures, visit www.schmidtfutures.com
|Partnering on Environmental and Educational Initiatives
From the UW-Madison Nelson Institutes for Environmental Studies
The past year has been transformative for the Native Nations_UW (NN_UW) Working Group, who has been collaborating with Native Nations across
Wisconsin on health, environmental conservation, and educational opportunities. Now in its second year, the program, which launched in May 2016
thanks to support from the Provosts of UW–Madison, University of Wisconsin Colleges, and the University of Wisconsin Extension, the NN_UW Working
Group, was developed to facilitate more respectful and reciprocal partnerships with Wisconsin’s Native Nations. Led by co-chair Jessie Conaway, a
faculty associate for Native Nations Partnerships at the Nelson Institute, the NN_UW Working Group spent year one developing a Strategic Plan with the
Tribes that outlines the goals for this initiative. After a great deal of preparation and collaboration with cross-campus partners and Native Nations
throughout Wisconsin, 2018 was a big year for the program, particularly in terms of the environmental and educational partnerships.
At the heart of this was the launch of the Culture Keepers / Elders-in-Residence Program, which brought prominent social worker, former assistant
secretary of Indian affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Menominee Tribal member Ada Deer to campus for a week. Hosted by the American
Indian Studies Program, Deer shared a meal with students and spent the week engaging in cultural education and programming. This program was
supported in part by generous donations through The Culture Keepers / Elders-in-Residence Crowdfunding campaign that took place in summer 2018 and
raised over $3,500. The Culture Keepers / Elders-in-Residence Program has asked all the Native Nations in Wisconsin to work with UW to invite elders
from their communities. Goals of the program are to provide students and UW personnel with access to crucial cultural education opportunities, while
improving campus climate for Native students.
"In our ongoing work with the Tribes in Wisconsin, we have learned that cultural exchange and reciprocity are needed for education and support of
Native students on campus,” Conaway said of the program. “This program is a culturally responsive way to address these needs, as well as make our
NN_UW work long-lasting and well-aligned with the current priorities of partnering Tribes."
In addition to the Keepers / Elders Program, the working group has also been developing curriculum that includes collaborations with Tribes throughout
Wisconsin. One such course was the spring 2018 capstone, Environmental Conservation with the Menominee Nation. Taught by Conaway, the course
encouraged students to learn, first-hand, about indigenous environmental philosophy and practice. Students worked directly with Tribal professionals
and leaders on projects that included ecology, natural resource management, mapping, and education.
As a part of relationship building deliverables in the NN_UW Strategic Plan, the Nations-UW (NN_UW) Working Group and the UW-Madison campus held a
professional development opportunity for cultural education in fall 2018. The Cultural Responsiveness Workshop, held as part of Native November, was
developed to educate UW–Madison faculty, staff and administrators about working more effectively with Native Nations and Native students. Working
together with professor of law, Director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center, and Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribal member, Richard Monette, as well as
UW Senior Academic Librarian-Emerita and Ho-Chunk Nation Tribal member, Janice Rice, Conaway facilitated the event, utilizing tools she learned in the
state of Washington through a professional development grant from the UW-Madison College of Letters and Science. Elder Gerald Cleveland and District
2 legislator Carly Lincoln did the workshop welcome, while Attorney General Amanda WhiteEagle spoke on Tribal Sovereignty. Former President of the
National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Jerilyn Decoteau, spoke on historic trauma.
Tribal colleges and natural resource departments, as well as UW—Madison students also had an opportunity to engage in cultural education through the
2018 Nelson Institute Earth Day event, Reciprocity & Respect: Working with Tribes for Community-based Conservation. During the event, Tribal natural
resource professionals and educators shared their projects and effective practices for engaging in research, internships and cross-cultural
With so many educational initiatives in progress and more on the horizon, the NN_UW has been actively recruiting for three new faculty positions that
will aid in moving this initiative forward. The new positions, through the School of Nursing, School of Human Ecology, and Nelson Institute for
Environmental Studies are made possible thanks to the campus-wide, UW–Madison cluster hire program, which was launched in 1998 as a partnership
between the university, state and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) to provide departments with the initial support needed to build
faculty teams that can address critical interdisciplinary research. Successful candidates hired as a part of this cluster hire will complement the work of
cross-campus groups while furthering the goals set forth by the NN_UW Working Group. The successful candidates will start in August 2019 and will be
working to create meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships with tribal communities and sovereign Native Nations through interdisciplinary
research and outreach.
While 2018 was an important year for the NN_UW Working Group, new and exciting initiatives are on the horizon. In particular, UW–Madison has been
working with the Ho-Chunk Nation to develop the language for a heritage marker that will highlight the history of the campus as ancestral homeland of
the Ho-Chunk Nation. While plans are still in the works, the sign has been prepared and will be placed on Bascom Hill during a ceremony within the next
“This is critical work,” said Conaway. “It’s fun, but it’s also powerful.”
Individuals interested in supporting the Native Nations_UW Working Group and it’s initiatives are encouraged to donate to the Native Nations
Partnership Fund, which provides broad support for all activities related to the Native Nations-UW-Madison partnership, including, but not limited to,
research, education, community outreach, elder/faculty/student recruitment, retention, and morale.
The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies builds partnerships to synergize and sustain excellence in the interdisciplinary research, teaching, and
service that make the University of Wisconsin-Madison a world leader in addressing environmental challenges. We strive to create sustainable
communities across complex institutional landscapes for enhancing the quality of life and the environment in Wisconsin and the world.