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DreamUp WI Announces Seven Semi-Finalist Ideas To Raise Income Of Dane County Families


DreamUp WI, which seeks to reduce racial, ethnic, and geographic economic disparities in the Dane County, has announced seven semi-finalists in the second year of a local competition. The Alliance for the American Dream Challenge looks to increase the net incomes of 10,000 Dane County families by 10 percent by 2022.

Over the next few months, teams will be developing partnerships with UW-Madison departments and community organizations, honing their proposal, and preparing a pitch to deliver in the competition’s next phase.

  “DreamUp WI is a unique opportunity to scale up solutions that come from the ground and make real impact for real people in our community. In addition, calling out solutions that include an equity lens had me hooked, because it is foundational to our future,” Annette Miller, owner of EQT by Design and facilitator of the DreamUp WI Proposal Review Committee, said in a statement. ” I am excited to facilitate the review committee for a second year, and to be part of the technical support to assist these teams.”

Teams will receive ongoing support in the coming months to further develop their ideas. Three will advance to present to Schmidt Futures and compete against ideas from The Ohio State University, University of Utah, and Arizona State University for up to $1 million in catalytic investment in summer 2020.

The semi-finalist teams are:

◉ EARNdane: Empowering Employee Advancement, which seeks to create an opportunity calculator to assess changes to a worker’s income and food, healthcare, housing, childcare, and supplemental income benefits; a digital people-to-program connection platform to streamline communication between workers and the workforce programs; and the EARNdane employer/employee resource network for comprehensive career advancement. Partners are: Employment and Training Association, City of Madison, Workforce Development Board of South Central WI, United Way of Dane County, Latino Academy of Workforce Development, and the Urban League of Greater Madison.

◉ Mobilize Dane, a partnership with the YWCA Madison, Union Cab, the Village of DeForest, and the UW—Madison Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture, will remove transportation barriers to jobs by sustaining a taxi-vanpool serving DeForest job centers, organizing DeForest employers that use the system into a consortium to support advancements in workforce development, transportation, housing, child care, and health care; expanding to other Dane County communities with similar challenges; and harnessing their consensus on regional transportation solutions.

 Healthy Black Families seeks to partner with Black families to design a culturally responsive, closed-loop referral system that coordinates, tracks and responds to their self-identified social needs. Health care providers would administer a universal screener for social needs and establish a risk-stratification system to connect high-risk patients to a community-based network of professionals. Partners include The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, Dane County Health Council, Harambee Village Doulas, Meadowood Health Partnership, and UW—Madison Population Health Institute.

◉ Clock’d is a Madison-based startup that allows workers in the foodservice and hospitality sectors to pick up open shifts local businesses post at will through the Clock’d app. The proposal seeks to expand the use of Clock’d in the Dane County and Milwaukee regions and develop job training and other assistance to workers.

◉ FEED Dane is a proposal by Madison’s Northside Planning Council to expand the FEED Kitchen facility to incorporate a co-packing service, pop-up restaurant, retail space, and a culinary training program, as well as to develop both a food cart web application and a meal delivery service for food businesses using the FEED facility.

◉ ReadyBot Sidekick will create a career building chatbot with the power to assess skills and make connections between workers and employers instantly using artificial intelligence (AI) and integrated data sources. ReadyBot helps employees reskill for careers that interest them and fill employers’ needs by connecting them to their best next training and job opportunity. Partners include Sidekick Education, UW—Madison Center for Research on College to Workforce Transitions, UW Health, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison College, and Workforce Development Board of South Central WI.

The advancing student proposal, AI to Reduce Student Loan Burden, by UW—Madison graduate student Eunji You, seeks to use secure, state run AI to answer student loan questions for people who have debt and do not know their options. Individuals can text questions and get customized automated responses, as well as be referred to coaches. This application seeks to simplify information about student loans, help debt holders navigate the complex repayment system, and improve the student loan default rate and the efficiency of repayment.